Why millionaires and businesses are flying privately amid COVID-19

According to business jet operator VistaJet, there has been a 49% increase in business demand for private jets around the world since the start of the pandemic, as businesses need “accessibility. 24/7 and maximum flexibility in their travel needs ”. High net worth individuals also fly to several overseas destinations, including remote locations, to vacation or spend quality time with their families.

The Middle East, in particular, is a key and growing market and the company has seen business and leisure clients travel to Russia, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, the UK and India.

“[We have] seen an increase in demand globally… the Middle East has – and continues to be – a key and growing market for us and we have experienced such strong and consistent growth in the first half of the year. year, especially from the UAE which has remained steadfastly open for business – demonstrating how private aviation is the critical mobility solution, ”said Ian Moore, Commercial Director of VistaJet.

Last year has been a strong period for VistaJet and so far 2021 has been “exceptional”, according to Moore.

“In the first half of this year alone, VistaJet welcomed 53% more new members compared to 2020, each with a tailor-made flight solution, which they travel on business and need to find in several places in a short time. time, or on vacation with their families and seeking to create the most memorable leisure trips to remote destinations around the world, ”Moore told Zawya.

In the Middle East, the company’s results for the first half of the year saw a 100% year-over-year increase in the number of customers who signed up to its membership program.

The region also saw a 153% increase in flight hours over the same period, with North America and Europe showing growth rates of 76% and 41%, respectively.

Why travelers choose private jets

One of the factors that makes private travel attractive to many people, especially in an age of social distancing, is the small number of touchpoints. When traveling by private jet, travelers go through a total of 20 touchpoints compared to 700 when traveling by commercial aircraft, according to Moore.

In a VistaJet survey conducted late last year, 79% of wealthy people (HNWIs) said they would be more inclined to travel by private jet than before, considering it to be a safer and more reliable travel option.

But it’s not just the ultra-rich who travel privately.

“If you also consider that [during] before the pandemic, only about 10% of people who could afford to travel privately did so. Today, 71% of new inbound VistaJet inquiries come from passengers who have not regularly used business aviation solutions in the past. There is certainly a correlation that shows how much people value the ease, safety and accessibility that comes with private aviation, ”said Moore.

But the demand for private travel to the Middle East was already increasing before the pandemic. Before the outbreak began, the Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) pointed out that the region has seen an increase in demand for private travel for some time. , with up to 70% of flights in the region on business. purposes.

“What has become evident is that the pandemic has served to put more emphasis on the benefits of private air travel beyond the VIP market, with companies increasingly recognizing the business opportunities it offers by terms of safety, security and accessibility, ”said Moore.

“One of the results of the redefinition of the global aviation landscape by COVID-19 has been a significant shift in the perception of private travel, with many organizations seeing it as an increasingly reliable and financially viable travel solution. ”

Who flies in private?

While private travel has traditionally been popular among the affluent, companies are now more inclined than ever to travel by private jet, according to Moore.

These clients are expanding their use of private aviation for their business travel and are increasingly sending entire management teams to multiple locations around the world to ensure business continuity. This is especially true in markets like the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and North Africa.

The trend is expected to continue next year, even as commercial passenger travel improves, according to Moore, citing growth in VisatJet’s customer subscription base.

“The nature of our subscription model means that our members sign a multi-year agreement based on their current and anticipated travel needs. Much of the growth we’ve seen in new subscriptions is a direct result of the conversations we had before the pandemic took hold with people taking a fairly judicious step back from the final decision-making until there is a more positive outlook and better clarity on their flight needs, ”explained Moore.

“Based on current and new subscriptions, we can confidently predict that this momentum will continue through 2022 and beyond. ”

Faced with growing demand, VistaJet is working to expand its fleet with the delivery of the first four of its revolutionary Global 7500 aircraft earlier this year and nine more before the end of 2022.

It also placed an order for ten new Challenger 350 aircraft from Bombardier, bringing the company’s global fleet to 96 aircraft with access to 187 countries.

The majority of the new Challenger 350s are expected to be delivered in 2022. The Challenger 350 is very popular among charter operators and business travelers.

Also this year, VistaJet is expected to complete the upgrade of its entire Challenger 850 fleet, including the installation of in-flight Wi-Fi with KU band technology and cabin upgrades.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Mily Chakrabarty)

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© ZAWYA 2021

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