Words by Patrick Gallagher, president of sales, marketing and service at NetJets.
The pandemic had a considerable impact on the travel industry, but confidence in travel has returned, and the reliability of private aviation will help travellers take to the skies once again.
This was made clear by NetJets’ flight volumes increasing steadily since the start of 2021 with June recording a 33% increase in flight volume compared to 2019, indicating that travellers are ready to go, and they’re confident in the ability of private aviation to get them to their destination safely. In addition to the increase in flight volume, we’ve also seen a rise in new owners. Our insight suggests that those who can afford to fly private, but historically hadn’t explored the option, are eager to commit to a travel route that is both private and safe.
In 2020, we saw a 350% increase in new owners, and we’re seeing similar uptake so far this year. NetJets holds the world’s largest private aviation fleet and the recent surge in demand for new ownership has enabled us to further expand our fleet with an additional 51 new aircrafts arriving in 2021. The efficiency of private travel, in addition to the dependability and safety associated with its offering, has opened the doors to an untapped market of flyers who until now relied on commercial aviation for their leisure travel needs. And this is not the only trend we’re seeing as we optimistically ease into summer with the hope for more travel.
For many, reduced commercial airline schedules and the prioritisation of health and safety around Covid-19 drove travellers to the option of flying privately, in many cases for the first time. While travel decisions and consumer priorities have naturally evolved over the last year, safety remained a top priority and will continue to influence travel decisions as the European market opens its borders this summer. To address this need and ensure both our owners and employees get to their destination safely, NetJets invested heavily in strategies to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
The NetJets Clean programme goes further than simply making sure every surface clean. Every 90 days our aircraft interiors are treated with an antimicrobial barrier that bonds to surfaces, further protecting our passengers and crewmembers from various germs. The development of this programme came after meticulous research of hundreds of disinfecting products and EPA-approved solutions that will support the rapidly evolving desire to travel leisurely once again.
Another item of increased importance we’re seeing with consumers is sustainable travel. As an industry, we’re under immense pressure to challenge the current model and lower our carbon footprint, and for good reason. The effects of carbon dioxide on the environment at high altitudes are severe, hence the need for change amongst the whole industry, which is why we are extremely proud to be carbon neutral in Europe.
But our work doesn’t stop here. To further accelerate this promise, this year we launched a Global Sustainability Programme, beginning with an investment in the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Together with WasteFuel, we will enable our fleet to run on fuel converted from municipal and agricultural waste. Not only does this sustainable fuel reduce landfills, but it also reduces carbon greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to conventional jet fuel.
We hope that as an industry we can tackle the challenges we are facing and give consumers a more environmentally friendly way to fly, by also involving them in the decisions that will impact the way they travel. At NetJets, we offer our owners the opportunity to enrol in our Blue Skies programme, which allows them to purchase an equivalent amount of carbon offsets to the carbon footprint of their annual flight hours.
While it is true the pandemic had a unique impact on the private aviation industry, we have seen interest from new owners like never before in our 56 years of flying. Our enhanced focus on health and wellbeing, sustainability, and personalised care have helped us foster and build long-lasting relationships with consumers. In fact, over one-third having flown with us for more than 10 years, a testament to our dedication to both our customers and the aviation industry. While there are many uncertainties ahead, there is uncontested stability in private aviation that excites us for an optimistic and safe return to travel.
All imagery used in this article credit: NetJets