How will the coronavirus vaccine impact global travel? Will face-to-face business resume anytime soon? Kyle Patel, CEO of private jet provider BitLux, breaks down the latest travel developments.
Travel has evolved, in a short timespan, to an almost unrecognisable state. But there will always be an opportunity for those who adapt and are best positioned to thrive. The private aviation industry jumps immediately into that debate.
Zoom calls have replaced face-to-face meetings, corporate board gatherings are on hold and global conferences, such as the Davos World Economic Forum, are being held completely online. What does that mean for aviation? Well, an opportunity for those who are still operating under strict safety measures. In other words, there is an opening for the entire private aviation industry to go above and beyond; it’s not only business and high-level gatherings fuelling this market.
Although worldwide passenger traffic plummeted 66% last year through November 2020, according to the International Air Transport Association, private jet operations fell only 11% in December 2020, the best monthly performance since the pandemic started, as data from WingX indicates. Furthermore, the same data shows that traffic to and from Florida improved by 12% in December from 2019, with the Caribbean serving as another recurring destination.
This information clearly shows that while health concerns and hefty travel restrictions have impacted commercial aviation heavily, those who can afford to travel by private jet, thus avoiding crowded airports, are actually doing so in similar numbers to pre-COVID travel levels.
Vaccination has started in various countries around the world, which means passengers’ uncertainties towards travel and its associated health concerns should decrease throughout 2021. There are some who were waiting for the vaccine to start planning their next trip. A spike in bookings is expected during the summer of 2021, with a surge likely to extend into the end of the year and beyond.
Once you try private there is no going back. With the headaches of commercial travel, many new passengers have been keen to experience private aviation. This is a huge win for the industry worldwide, because this increase in demand has helped reduce the gap left by the lack of business-related operations, as previously mentioned.
Furthermore, companies will start sending their executives worldwide again. This could mean that private aviation might be in a better shape than before Coronavirus, if you consider the passengers that have jumped on board and have no intentions to go back to commercial operators, and the regular leisure and business operations.
Trends by aircraft size
Domestic operations are driving demand these days. With that in mind, larger intercontinental private jets are not being chartered as much. Not only due to price, but because of the constant shifts in international travel restrictions, passengers prefer to keep it simple and maintain their travel agenda on local grounds.
Small and medium jets, as well as comfortable and cost-efficient turboprops, have been leading the way during the end of 2020 and start of 2021. In essence, the reduction in the number of commercial flights is making it difficult for people to get from point A to point B in the country without taking a whole day doing it. They are turning to smaller private jets, especially suited for domestic travel.