The private jet industry felt similar shockwaves to the rest of the aviation sector at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a promising rebound in recent months looks set to recover some of those losses as wealthy leisure passengers switch to private flights to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.
According to the latest data, international business arrivals are expected to decrease by 40.7% year-on-year (YOY) in 2020. This dramatic reduction in business travel will likely take a prolonged amount of time to regain pre-pandemic levels. In order to stay viable, private jet companies need to now strengthen their focus on the growing leisure market while corporate travel remains bleak.
Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism now looks to be one of the last types of tourism to recover as businesses look to cut costs and reduce the risk of their employees contracting the virus, which makes online events/meetings much more of an attractive proposition for at least the short-term. It is in fact leisure travelers that have helped private jet companies on their path to recovery. Some passengers that would have flown commercially are now paying a premium to fly private to meet their needs of safety and security.
Privacy, safety and flexibility needs to be the key strength of private jets that are marketed to uncertain leisure travelers that sit in the higher socio-economic classes. Jet It – a business jet fractional ownership company – has experienced a sharp increase in new clients interested in private travel recently, allowing Glenn Gonzales (the owner) to expand his company and private charter company Jet Club. Gonzales stated that he had seen his business grow 300% in Q2 and Q3 2020.
This increase in demand spurred by leisure travelers may permanently change the business models of many private jet companies. The more purposeful targeting of leisure travelers may be undertaken in order to attract a more diverse customer base going forward, assisting to achieve a successful post-COVID-19 recovery.