As the coronavirus started spreading across the globe in early Spring, both the commercial airlines and the private jet industry took a very hard hit. But then something happened with the private jet industry; clients came back in great numbers and noticeably, many first-time clients made bookings.
“In May, commercial passenger demand was down 91.3 per cent compared with a year ago.
By contrast, private flights dropped 70 per cent year on year in April but were down only 28 per cent in June, (...).“
PERSONAL TRAVEL BRINGING BACK THE PRIVATE JET INDUSTRY
While busines meeting after business meeting and conference after conference got cancelled, a majority of the private jet bookings were now for leisure travel due to the lack of commercial flights. Furthermore, people with the financial possibility chose private jets to avoid the health risks associated with the crowded commercial flights, as well as the many touch points going through the major airports, which are avoided with private jets as they depart from small, private terminals.
INVESTING IN FLEET AND TALENT
The current economic downturn has created a window of opportunity for the private jet industry. Private jet companies are currently taking advantage of this unprecedented downturn in the aviation industry and the economy in general to acquire new aircrafts at more favourable terms and prices.
“The day after the Fourth of July, when commercial airline travel was down 74 percent year-over-year, private jet flights were up five percent, (...).”
But private jet companies have not only added aircrafts to their fleet – they have also added more pilots. For long, private aviation has experienced a shortage of pilots, but with major airlines furloughing thousands of pilots due to the pandemic, it has now become possible to attract talent. Thereby, the corona crisis has turned into a golden opportunity for private jet companies in terms of an extended talent pool and available aircrafts.
A TIME TO INVEST IN ELECTRIC ENGINES?
At this point in time, where everything is up in the air, another golden opportunity for the private jet industry is to start investing in electric jet engines to take steps towards carbon-neutral air travel. With electric engines, private jet companies would be able to issue green bonds, which can help finance this transition.
The question is now whether the aviation industry has changed for good? Both the commercial airlines and the private jet companies have experienced a tremendous fall in business trips due to worldwide travel restrictions, and as we all get more and more used to online business meetings it is easy to imagine that the amount of business trips never will go back to normal.