Air Partner sees 114% increase in private jet enquiries
Global aviation company Air Partner saw a 114% increase in private flying enquiries this summer compared to 2019.
Kevin MacNaughton, managing director of the company’s charter division (pictured), said the private jet side of the business is “booming” and seeing growth in first-time private flyers.
He told Aspire: “We had one of our best years ever last year and [we’re set to have a really] strong year this year.
“At the beginning of the pandemic when we all went into lockdown, the private jet side of the business cooled off due to airport closures but then the freight side of the business got really strong, bringing in all the Covid supply and PPE equipment.
“As we've come through to this summer, it's completely reversed and the private jet side is booming – we had 114% more enquiries than we did in 2019. This summer was extremely hot and so private jets really took off.”
He added: “An interesting part is the audience because we've started to get a lot more first-time private jet flyers. Because of the Covid restrictions, not wanting to mix outside of a bubble and wanting to fly with family, they all came together and [meant people] wanted to fly as a bubble and go through private terminals, which have got less touch points and [are] much more personalised.”
The UK government’s decision to reduce the red list to seven countries has prompted a surge in forward travel, according to MacNaughton. Long haul destinations like the Maldives, the Seychelles and Mexico are proving popular, while Tenerife, Marrakech and wider Europe are in demand for October half-term.
But MacNaughton said the most notable impact of the UK’s red list easing had been on the upcoming ski season.
“One of the biggest things we are starting to see is the beginning of bookings for the forward ski season, so people are now starting to feel more confident with vaccinations and with the routes opening up to be able to book their skiing.
“We've already started to see bookings for Chambery, Courchevel, Sion for Verbier and Zermatt. It's just a much more positive feel that skiing will happen this year so that's fantastic.
Air Partner has also seen an increase in demand for its JetCard membership programme, which offers guaranteed availability in 24 hours and a fixed hourly rate.
MacNaughton said: “I think one of the key reasons for that is that flexibility to cancel and change - that's become a huge part of travel these days.
“Now when you come to private jet [travel], it's almost expected that you can get the flexibility and cancellation and so that product has become extremely strong, knowing if for any reason you needed to change 24-48 hours before, you can at no cost. It's a big play.”
As business ramps up, Air Partner is looking to grow its sales team in London and has also recently hired a partner relationship manager to expand supply chains and widen its network.
“We absolutely expect the private jet business to grow over the next two to three years,” MacNaughton said.
“Once you’ve taken a private jet to go on holiday or business, it's extremely hard to go back so I do think it will continue.
“It’s very much now about understanding the value of private jets. I think in the past, people were sat on the fence between commercial and private jets and were not necessarily sure which direction to go. Now, the value of getting the safety and security has changed the dynamics.”