Written by David Gitman, Monarch Air Group
As reported by WINGX’s latest weekly Business Aviation Bulletin, June is curving 12 percent above pre-COVID levels, a trend that continues since the start of 2021. Private jet numbers currently show higher than the industry growth rate year over year and project that those numbers will continue to increase thanks to a surge in demand for leisure travel during summer in the Northern Hemisphere, although heavily pushed by domestic flights. International travel is expected to regain shape once restrictions are lifted, potentially at the end of 2021.
Commercial aviation uncertainty
The decrease in scheduled airline operations throughout the pandemic also opened the door for an increase of new passengers in the private jet charter segment. Considering commercial aviation numbers are still 40 percent below the pre-pandemic normal for this time of year (WINGX), those still in need to fly continue opting for the reliability of private flight. In effect, that same fact has attracted an increasing number of first-time flyers.
A shift in consumer behavior
The increasing number of first-time flyers learned how to invest in their comfort and safety, acknowledging the added value of doing so. More people started to realize that investing in safety for loved ones is the most important thing. Consequently, that is why private aviation is being considered not as a luxury but becoming a standard and the only possible choice for people who need a reliable travel solution.
Control and flexibility
Regaining control of travel itineraries seems a distant reality for those passengers still flying commercial. Private aviation has delivered that promise throughout the pandemic, granting clients the power to adapt their flights to their schedules and not the other way around. That flexibility has been the differentiator for this travel segment.
A new safety standard
Air travel is the safest means of transportation known to date. Although executive aviation has taken that statement up a notch during the pandemic. With fewer touchpoints, a controlled cabin, and private boarding, the process of flying in a private jet has attracted thousands of customers thanks to a lower risk of infection. And private jet companies have thrived with their messaging to stakeholders, reassuring them that flying on a private aircraft is the safest way to travel during the outbreak.
More domestic, less international
The connection between range and travel limitations is clear; domestic sectors are back to 2019 levels, while international executive jet sectors are still down by 20 percent contrasted with 2019. The gap should decrease at the end of 2021, strongly tied with vaccination drives in countries that lead in annual business aviation operations.
Smaller jets in the sky
More domestic flights have surged in bookings of light and very light jets, which are flying more than in 2019, same with the super-midsize jets. This supports the fact that domestic private jet travel is leading the way with aircraft suited for a comfortable three to four-hour flight, precisely the flight time from Miami to New York. Flights between Florida and New York have increased almost 70 percent in 2019, while departures in Florida are now a stunning 30 percent higher in 2021 than in 2019 (WingX).
What do these key facts show us? That private aviation has been a constant during the pandemic, reaching unprecedented heights and confirming that it is a new normal. The industry has been tested, adapting to diverse requirements from the industry, from repatriation flights at the beginning of the outbreak, to new clients who are just experiencing private flight today, guiding them through the process and expectations. And numbers should only continue to grow as global business regains shape in late 2021 and early 2022.