Jun. 28—Tired of dealing with airport security? Sick of getting to the Delta Sky Lounge only to be shuffled into the Diamond Lesser Elite line?
You, my friend, might consider reserving your own entire airplane—an exorbitantly expensive way to travel but one that is picking up an astonishing amount of steam in 2022 as commercial airlines cancel flights and COVID-19 restrictions lift around the world. A recent story published by Robb Report's Michael Verdon details a new boom of private air travel bookings as well-to-do patrons return to the skies for summer travel.
Speaking to industry leaders and monitors, Verdon found that the number of private business and leisure charter flight bookings in 2022 has already eclipsed pre-pandemic levels, for reasons ranging from loosened travel restrictions to overbooked commercial flights and fear of illness. Business jet movements in the month of June have outpaced those recorded in 2019 by 12 percent, according to WingX Global Market Tracker, which provides weekly updates of events and trends within the private flight sector.
"The market is red hot right now," Jonah Adler, chief commercial and marketing officer at the private jet company Jet Edge, told Verdon. "It's a combination of things that includes an increase in first-time fliers, high usage among charterers and jet owners. It'll get even hotter once the business traveler returns in the fall."
The lion's share of summer traveling aboard private airplanes has been conducted via domestic U.S. flights, according to WingX. More than 134,000 private business jet movements were recorded in the month of June alone in the United States—an increase of nearly 70 percent from monthly figures from 2020 and 25 percent from 2021. One of the main drivers of this boost was an influx of first-time charter flyers brought about by the pandemic, according to Sentient Jet CEO Andrew Collins.
"In a normal year, 65 percent of our business comes from returning customers," Collins told Verdon. "Last year, that shifted to 60 and even 70 percent of business coming from new customers. We're seeing that revert to more traditional levels, but bear in mind many returning customers were new customers just a few months ago. Their appetite for flying privately remains just as robust."
The boom in private flights comes amid a slew of flight cancellations in the commercial air travel sector, where major air carriers are struggling to navigate historic demand amid an ongoing pilot shortage. High fuel prices and mass cancellations have sent the average price of airfare skyrocketing, with ticket costs increasing 40 percent across major carriers in the United States between January and April.
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