The private jet industry felt similar shockwaves to the rest of the aviation sector at the start of the pandemic. However, a promising rebound in recent months is set to recover some of those losses as wealthy leisure passengers switch to private flights to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 and cancellations.

Similar to commercial airlines, private jet companies faced an existential threat to their survival from the spread of Covid-19, which resulted in travel restrictions across the world. Demand for private jets usually stems from corporate travel. However, 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 travellers 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.

Private jet companies may have to alter their marketing strategies

According to GlobalData, international business arrivals are expected to decrease by 40.7% YOY in 2020. This dramatic reduction in business travel will likely take a prolonged amount of time to regain pre-pandemic levels. To stay viable, private jet companies now need to strengthen their focus on the leisure market while corporate travel remains bleak.

Privacy, safety and flexibility need to be the key strength of private jets that are marketed to uncertain leisure travellers that sit in the higher socio-economic classes. Jet It – a business jet fractional ownership company – has recently experienced a sharp increase in new clients interested in private travel, enabling Glenn Gonzales (the owner) to expand his company and private charter company Jet Club. Gonzales said that he had seen his business grow 300% in the second and third quarter of 2020.

The increase in demand spurred by leisure travellers may permanently change the business models of many private jet companies to attract a more diverse customer base going forward.

A more diverse customer base may put pressure on sustainability initiatives

Private jets often receive negative criticism for their environmental impact. Each jet will burn 40 times as much carbon per passenger as regular commercial flights, according to a report by aviation company Honeywell Aerospace. VistaJet, a major player in the private jet industry, has signed a new partnership with SkyNRG, offering all its customers around the world access to sustainable aviation fuel as part of its ‘eight pillars of sustainability’.

As private jets become more commonly used due to the pandemic, brand image will become more important for companies, battling for market share, and incorporating sustainability into operations will be critical in gaining a competitive edge.

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