High-net-worth travellers are ready to fly again, and it is no surprise they are choosing private jets to reach their summer destination or holiday home abroad. However, this year it appears the decision is about more than prestige.
Flying by private jet has always been seen as glamorous, with business tycoons, pop stars, movie stars and footballers amongst the most regular flyers. But private jet charter companies are reporting that increasing numbers of high-profile clients are focused not so much on luxury but on a need to travel safely and hygienically, with fears about Covid-19 still prevalent.
Claudette Gharbi, group VIP charter director at Chapman Freeborn, a global VIP private jet charter specialist, said: “Hygiene, social distancing and protection from the virus have become some of the biggest talking points when chartering a private jet.
“Of course, cabin comfort, high class service and the ability to choose your aircraft are still hugely important. But being able to travel safe in the knowledge that you are as protected with limited touchpoints is a major focus.
“The good news is that private jet travel has many advantages over scheduled airlines. Clients typically fly from airports with private executive facilities to avoid crowds, board the plane at their own leisure and travel alone or with their own ‘bubble’. It is the ultimate in social distancing.”
Just the expression ‘private jet’ conjures up images of the super-rich reclining in luxury seats and sipping champagne as they travel the world on their own personal aircraft, with their every need attended to. We are used to seeing pictures of celebrities, rock stars and even presidents travelling this way, however the reasons for choosing a private jet are clearly changing.
“Covid-19 has demonstrated that private aviation is an excellent means to provide added protection to passengers, their families, and friends from the virus when travelling, and that the associated premium is worth the mitigated risk. We have seen that travellers who would usually pay to travel first class or business class on a scheduled flight are turning to private jet travel now – when they weigh up the cost comparisons it seems there is the preference for private jet travel now more than ever,” added Claudette.
There are plenty of other reasons why private jet travel hits the mark during the pandemic, with Covid-19 ravaging so many areas of the world.
Clients can ask for any hygiene extras they require on board, for instance, an aircraft are cleaned and sterilised after each and every flight. Pre-flight Covid-19 tests can be organised for passengers and crew, and on a private jet with fewer seats on board there is far more space per passenger, with the highest levels of service guaranteed.
Claudette added: “Historically a lot of clients have been focused on luxury and comfort when they fly. They are very knowledgeable about private jets and know exactly which aircraft they want to charter.
“Our job is to look after all their needs, whether that is delivering their favourite meals or drinks, dressing the aircraft in their chosen style, setting up the cabin for a special occasion and accommodating their pets on board.
“But when it comes to extras this summer, the focus is more on personalising hygiene measures – for instance asking for cabin crew to be tested before take-off. Some clients have even asked for no cabin crew at all, which is feasible on some aircraft.
“Perhaps the biggest attraction for private jet travel right now is that it avoids the virus hot spots of a crowded airport and a potentially full scheduled flight cabin. You have minimal touchpoints with anyone else.
“Excellent and personalised customer service only amplifies that attraction.”
There are many other advantages to chartering a private jet, of course, including the ability to travel direct, even to destinations where scheduled airlines do not fly directly to, and incognito of course. Clients can also choose their own departure times and arrive at smaller private airfields which are closer to their final destination and offer a VIP treatment on arrival.
It is also possible, as the pandemic eases, that some destinations around the word may open up to private jet travel before they welcome scheduled airlines, as was the case with the Seychelles in 2020.
It turns out there’s far more to private jets than champagne and luxury.
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