While commercial airlines are seeing a dip in sales during the pandemic, private aviation companies cater to a growing clientele.
Exclusivity, convenience, and personalized service are some of the main reasons wealthy people opt to travel using private jets. But during the pandemic, less risk of contracting COVID-19 became an added perk.
Rather than going to a large airport and exposing yourself to other travelers, chartering a private jet allows you to board the plane directly from a business jet terminal or dedicated jet airport. In addition, you won’t have to worry about flying with dozens of strangers.
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Last year, global jet chartering company Visajet’s membership subscriptions saw a growth of 29 percent— 18 percent of the new members come from Asia.
“It’s an exciting time to capture an even larger addressable clientele who are considering upgrading from first-class to private aviation due to safety and health concerns,” Visajet’s founder and chairman Thomas Flor tells South China Morning Post. “As well as the disruption of the commercial airline’s infrastructure during the pandemic.”
Premium travel’s new normal
According to the private operator’s data, only 10 percent of people who can afford chartering jets actually do. But now, more of the market is deeming the exclusive means of travel to be “necessary.”
Lee Applbaum, chief marketing officer at Wheels Up, one of the largest private aviation operators in the US, shares with Conde Nast Traveler, “[clients are] using our services to reunite with friends and family after periods of quarantine, safely transport elderly family members throughout the course of the pandemic, conduct critical business trips, and much more.”
On an international scale, luxury travel’s ‘new normal’ includes flying privately, whether for business or leisure purposes. In effect, five-star resorts are riding on the upward trend by beefing up their packages jet charters.
Swiss-headquartered hospitality group Aman is launching “Aman Private Jet” this year. In line with the company’s value proposition on luxury and exclusivity, each jet can cater to only 12 guests per flight. The private charter service lets clients customize their trip by incorporating their 30 resorts and hotels worldwide.
In Boracay, Crimson Resort and Spa collaborate with AirTaxi PH for direct routes between Boracay, Manila, and Cebu.
Marketed as a “travel bubble package,” vacationers who purchase the offer can fly to Caticlan airport aboard a Cessna Turbo 206H. The light aircraft accommodates up to four passengers, and the rates (which include a beachfront villa) start at P204,000 net for two people.
Less risk of infection
In an analysis published by South China Morning Post, private jets are “up to 35 percent safer when it comes to exposure to viruses.” According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), air travel’s risk of infection is mainly from security lines and airport terminals.
The US government agency also notes that germs don’t spread as “easily” on flights because air is filtered. “However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19,” is written on their website.
With that said, traveling on a private plane eradicates the most significant risks of air travel: various touchpoints and the inability to social distance. Although it’s not yet clear when travel will be entirely safe again, it appears that chartering your own jet is the safest option to get to your overseas destination.