LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine sits down with Ringo Fan, the founder and managing director of APERTUS Aviation, and a key player in the Asian private jet scene.
With the UK travel industry still reeling, and as Asia begins to slowly rebuild and rebound from Covid-19, experts are looking East to gain an understanding into what’s next.
With this in mind we spoke to Ringo Fan, founder and MD of award-winning private jet charter firm APERTUS Aviation, for his insight into the travel trends expected to be prevalent in Europe and North America in the near future.
With a presence in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore, as well as London, APERTUS Aviation sits in a unique position between the client and the large fleet jet operators. What can you tell us about how the Asian market is travelling now? Given all that’s gone on, one can imagine that privacy is a big trend at the moment.
Unsurprisingly yes. In terms of leisure travel, we’ve seen an enormous rise in ultra-private package holidays. These include air bubbles where you can keep your social distance with your own private party from the moment you leave home until you’re relaxing on your own stretch of private beach. This has led to a sharp increase in enquiries from luxury travel agents, customising their tours and packages with private flying. From a more corporate side, we are seeing more corporations using private travel in their operations. With increased efficiency, flexibility, privacy and service, flying privately is becoming an essential tool for Asian companies moving their executives around the continent.
How significant is the demand for flexibility right now?
It’s incredibly important. Our service has always been ultra-personalised at APERTUS, and at the moment we’ve observed a great increase in one-way bookings, with around 70% of booked flights in 2020 one-way. This allows for travellers to shift gears and change plans even during their stay, keeping an eye on world events, outbreak levels and quarantine guidelines. Travellers want the freedom to make changes when they arrive without any unnecessary worries.
Has the private aviation industry as a whole seen an increase in demand?
Yes absolutely. And more and more travellers are experiencing private air travel for the very first time. We’ve had a big uptick in first time private flyers. There has been an increase in new clients, notably from individuals and corporations who might have possessed the means to fly privately but have, until now, chosen otherwise. They see the value it offers more than ever before.
Is there any difference in the type of planes requested?
Actually yes. We have more and more requests for smaller aircrafts. This bucks the trend we’ve been seeing up until now that was a demand for larger aircraft. Bigger is not always better when it comes to the current pandemic and keeping passenger lists small and part of a tight social circle is what’s required.
What other changes have you seen?
We’ve seen a need for even greater tractability. There’s been a sharp rise in requests for medium term solutions such as block hour programmes and aircraft leasing – up by 500%! To meet this demand, we created a programme that gives companies 60 days of unlimited flying, within a specified region. We had clients who have said: ‘Look, we are concerned about availability of planes, so we want to make sure we can still secure planes, and run our business for the next 60 days, as there are so many places we need to go, and so many deals that still need to get done.’ There are some limits to this, notably where the clients are planning on flying to, and how many passengers the flights would carry, but once we know this, we can set up a programme package.
On another level, we are seeing an increase in requests for in-depth information regarding the journey. Whether about the plane itself (cleanliness, flight crew, travel history, etc.), or information about the destination (currency, local rules following the pandemic, etc.), due to our global team of regional experts, we have been able to provide this local knowledge to our clients, helping to strengthen our global network and in turn improve business.
What are your thoughts on the future of private aviation?
This is an incredibly challenging time in the world, but speaking about private aviation, I would say that this is one industry that arguably can come back from the pandemic even stronger. Our business model has long been about our flexibility and service – but now safety and privacy are playing key roles. We have all had to quickly react to the changing environment and adopt new concepts and ideas to keep with the times (something our global network has helped with), but while the future of travel remains uncertain, we anticipate seeing lasting, positive effects across the industry, as a result of the initiatives we are implementing now.
Not only have we increased our health and safety measures across the board, but we’ve also partnered with Trees for All, a foundation based in the Netherlands, whose mission is to plant new forests worldwide and restore existing forests; our partnership will see 10 trees donated with every booking. Trees for All’s mission is to contribute to a better climate and biodiversity. Currently, the programme not only offsets carbon emissions by planting new forests worldwide and restoring existing forests, but it also contributes to improving the standard of living for those in developing countries.