As many commercial carriers continue to struggle to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, it would appear that increasing numbers of affluent travelers are turning their sights to private jet companies as a means of transportation.
As a case in point, Air Charter Service, the world’s largest global aircraft charter broker, is reporting a 75 percent increase inquiries in May and June 2020 over the same period last year.
“We have been arranging private jet travel for existing clients as well as new clients who are looking for a better way to travel than commercial and more peace of mind. With the current pandemic, those who normally travel in first-class commercially are elevating their experience with personal well-being in mind, especially for older clients who have more health concerns,” said Richard Thompson, president of Air Charter Service Americas.
“It’s a more streamlined process to get from A to B, whether that’s for business or leisure. The greatest number of private aircraft users are North Americans and half of our calls are from new customers,” Thompson continued.
Today, travelers with means are looking to customize trips with smaller circles of friends and family to more-off-the-beaten-path destinations such as Jackson Hole, Wy.; Bozeman, Mt., and Aspen, Colo., and the Caribbean’s Tortola, Antigua and St. Martin, the company said.
It noted that the top three international destinations in terms of inquiries are Tulum, Cabo San Lucas and The Bahamas. “Many who travel to The Bahamas connect with private yacht charters and spend about a week to 10 days there,” the company said. “However, during the pandemic, travelers are opting to stay for a month or the entire summer.”
While personalized VIP service, privacy and avoiding crowds in the airport and on commercial planes are the primary reason why travelers choose to fly by private jet, “the new private jet customer is someone who used to travel first class exclusively but is no longer comfortable on a commercial flight,” the company said.
“Clients are arranging travel for their senior parents who have existing health concerns. Popular jet requests range from 12-seaters to accommodate an inner circle of friends and multi-generational families to aircraft able to fly at and upwards of ranges of 7,500 nautical miles. Many clients also utilize private aircraft to fly routes that cannot be flown on commercial flights.”
Air Charter has offers 23,000 charter flights annually and features an office on all six major continents.
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