Few industries have remained unaffected by the worldwide pandemic. In many cases, companies have had to rethink the way they do things in order to remain afloat. Others have had to scramble in order to meet growing demands. The latter happens to be the case with companies that offer private jet charter flights.
Even as commercial airlines laid off countless employees and had to deal with empty seats in the flights that remained, charter service owners were looking for ways to accommodate an expanding client base. Why is this the case and who is doing all the flying? Here is some information that will help you understand what’s happening and how it could impact travel in the future.
Changes in Consumer Demographics
It’s fairly common industry knowledge that in the pre-pandemic days, around ten percent of potential clients would select private flight service travel rather than fly commercially. Potential clients would refer to people who were capable of affording jet charters. That means prior to the spread of COVID-19, only a small fraction of those could afford to travel this way were doing so.
Since the pandemic began, that’s changed. More of the remaining ninety percent of potential clients have begun to make inquiries, with many of them following through and scheduling charter flights. Some services report as much as a 300-600% jump in inquiries between April 2020 and April 2021. A good share of those inquiries led to bookings.
Another shift is that people who tended to consider charter flights to be the province of business travellers have begun to rethink that point of view. Individuals and families who want to get away for a time are utilizing this travel solution in greater numbers. It’s not just individuals that are in a high-income bracket that are making the switch. Several charter companies indicate that a growing demographic in their client base are people who would be considered upper middle or middle class in terms of economic status.
This has led to an interesting shift that was not anticipated. Since more families are travelling, that means more children are accompanying their parents. Some services note that up to 20% of their passengers have been children under the age of 18 that are travelling with their parents for vacations and other types of getaways.
Reasons Behind the Upturn in Chartered Flight Use
Among the data provided by various charter services, two primary reasons for the uptick in personal use of this form of flight emerge. One has to do with the status and availability of commercial flights. Simply put, many airlines grounded a number of flights early on. Not all airlines have expanded the number of available flights since last summer.
Even among those that have done so, the number of flights is still not equal to pre-pandemic levels. For some, opting for charter flights is the only way to get where they want to go.
Another primary reason has to do with personal safety. It’s easier to control the setting by taking a charter flight. People can choose to secure a flight that’s been thoroughly sanitized before boarding. All the passengers are people that they are related to or at least close friends with. There is no disagreement about the wearing of masks and taking other precautions. In short, people feel safer when they are with people they know and trust.
How Has the Increase Affected the Cost?
What has this change in demographics and the increase in the demand done for private flight cost? In some instances, very little has changed. Some companies report that their rate structures remain the same. One thing that occurs less often seems to be fewer flights that have to “dead-head” back to a home base. In other words, there’s more of a change that there will be people at the flight’s destination that want to return to the city where the jet is based.
Other services report that there has been a change in private jet flight cost based on a few factors. The increase in the cost of fuel is one factor that can impact the expense. Additional deep cleaning in between flights is another consideration. The fact that some clients are opting for destinations other than major cities may also mean there are still flights that return home with no passengers.
So how much does it cost for a private jet flight during a pandemic? The only way to know for sure is to talk with a local provider, identify your destination and the dates for your departure and return. You may find that it’s close to what people paid before the pandemic, or it could be more.
Where’s Everyone Going?
How about destinations? Are there changes in where people are going? Many services report that quite a few business professionals as well as private citizens continue to go to larger population centres. Even so, there are those who are looking for less crowded places to go and book their private small plane flights accordingly.
Why destinations that are less crowded? It’s no real secret. People are tired of pandemic living and want to go somewhere that allows them to not be around larger groups of people. The idea is that it’s possible to spend more time without wearing a mask and still remain safe. For this reason, more remote beaches, mountain resorts, and similar spots have seen more traffic. While much of it is domestic, it’s not unusual for people to seek destinations that are found in countries that still allow inbound travel.
Long-Term Ramifications for Private Charter Services
What will the shifts during the pandemic mean for private flight membership in the future? No one can tell with any surety. It’s possible that many people who are considered middle and upper middle class may continue to utilize charter flights after the pandemic is over. That’s especially likely when it comes to taking family vacations or going on trips with close friends.
The increase in charter flights will likely mean that private services will continue to ensure they have aircraft on hand to meet demand. That will be especially so during times of the year when families and groups of individuals are likely to take time off for vacations and long weekends.
Business professionals who have spent more time utilizing online tools to hold presentations and meet with remote clients are likely to get back to taking trips and meeting face to face. That will mean one of the primary sources for revenue will begin to regain traction as the pandemic fades.
It’s a relatively safe bet that many charter services will explore more ways to provide affordable private flights that meet the needs and the budgets of their newer clientele. This is especially true if inquires and bookings continue to remain at similar levels.
If you need to travel, do consider the idea of booking a charter flight. Be aware of last minute private flight deals rather than assuming a commercial airline is your best bet. Find out what it would take to book a private charter flight to and from your destination. After trying it once, this may be your preferred mode of travel from now on.