While the emergence of the novel coronavirus has had an impact on just about every facet of life, the past two years have been particularly turbulent for the global aviation industry. With countries across the world imposing restrictions and conditions on travel, and many would-be jetsetters taking the decision to stay at home, or to enjoy a domestic holiday instead, many operators have struggled to stay airborne.
The effect hasn’t been uniform across the entire industry, however. Just as restrictions were beginning to bite into mainstream airline companies, private jets saw a surge in interest, as wealthy customers sought to avoid the hassle of the more affordable end of the market.
Surging Private Aviation
Private aviation company Vista Global reported a range of regional increases in demand for their services. Flight hours from the Middle East surged by 153%. In North America and Europe, the figures were 76% and 46% respectively.
Rich customers went down this route for a range of reasons. They were at lesser risk of becoming infected with the virus, since they needed to spend less time in boarding lounges, and the craft themselves were less crowded. There was also less chance of a flight being delayed since private companies are less beholden to the whims of border control.
Vista Global also reported that sales of smaller jets, designed for use by individuals, have been surging. The number of flight hours for this aircraft overall has surged by just over 67%, according to the company – which is good news for those looking to cater to demand from wealthy customers. While it’s unlikely that this level of demand will outlast the coronavirus and the restrictions on emissions that might result from an increasingly green regulatory environment.
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
The pandemic has seen plenty of false dawns throughout 2021, but the recovery has been tangible. While rates of infection have surged thanks to the Omicron variant, the relative mildness of the symptoms, and the rollout of effective vaccines in most developed nations, might cause commercial flights in 2022 to be viable without the need for proof of vaccination, masks, or a negative test.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, there has been a reduction in passenger volume of around 60% in 2020, compared to 2019 numbers. In 2021, this rose to a 49% reduction, and in 2022 it’s predicted to rise again to around 30%.
While it’s difficult to make concrete predictions about what’s going to happen, there’s the reason for airline operators to be optimistic that the medical situation will permit a return of something like normality. Whether passengers are eager to take to the skies again once the restrictions are lifted, however, is far from certain.
Executives At Private Jet Companies Must Be Licking Their Chops.
Ostrower: The epidemic has been a huge boon to private aviation. I recently attended an event that could be compared as a visit to an aviation petting zoo. It served as a sort of trade exhibition for tiny plane makers. Right now, business aviation is a hot commodity. But this isn’t motivated by fear of virus or air rage, but rather by the fast changes in flight schedules. In private aircraft, there is no chance of being redirected or canceled, so you can be assured that you will arrive at your destination. That’s the big draw here, in my opinion.
There is a misconception that private aviation is just for the rich and famous, and although that is true, there are now many more individuals who can afford to travel privately than there were a few decades ago. You can always improve.
Lewis: In addition to that, you’ve seen a lot of innovation in this industry, whether it’s via the use of charter, fractional ownership, or aviation clubs — all of which make it simpler for customers to try out private aviation and have a taste of it.
Has Aviation lost Its Allure? Is The Industry Still Sought-after As A Place To Work?
It’s hard to resist the attraction of airlines because of all the free travel you may take advantage of. That’s something that will constantly draw attention. Staff will continue to be enticed by interesting breakthroughs in aircraft and future technologies like electricity and space, and I believe that this will continue for a long time to come.
It’s always going to be attractive to young people because aviation and tourism are all about connecting the world.
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