Business aviation on track for upswing, but it will take time

By Business Aviation, FeaturedNo Comments

With much still remaining uncertain across the aviation sector, the roll out of vaccinations in countries around the world has certainly provided a sense of optimism. And as the business aviation sector looks to the year ahead, Rollie Vincent, JetNet iQ Director is forecasting an upswing for the sector in the latter half of 2021.

Commenting in JetNet iQ’s latest Pulse report he said: “If we cast our minds back 12 months, it would be reasonable to suggest that no one had the forecasting prowess to foresee the year we are just emerging from.” However, he also referenced that the industry is now seeing signals of change. “Amongst the most encouraging are reports of new customers coming into the business and general aviation industry for the first time.”

He also noted that many colleagues and friends in the corporate jet sales and transactions world had recorded a bumper finish to 2020 with more transactions in the last quarter than the rest of the year combined. He added that “Each of the major business jet manufacturers is currently releasing new aircraft models and variants – Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream and Textron – with very exciting advances and inclusions.”

Meanwhile Adam Twidell, PrivateFly’s CEO, argued that while the start of vaccination programmes is giving a sense of future optimism, recovery timelines remain hard to forecast. In his ‘private jet’ predictions for 2021 he said that, “While private aviation has seen increased demand from leisure clients, business travel as we knew it remains largely absent.” In 2021, he believes that many people will continue to work from home or remotely. “We’re already seeing clients with second homes in traditional summer destinations now travelling to them at anytime of the year and staying for longer – as they can work from there.”

He added that this blurring of work and leisure time will have an impact on routes and destinations. PrivateFly’s 2020 trends report has already highlighted that Nice has been more popular than Paris in recent months. “I think we’ll see this type of shift even further in 2021,” he said.

And with passengers increasingly looking to travel more responsibly and more thoughtfully, “a strong sustainability commitment is now an essential part of a private aviation service… with many more companies in our sector putting this front and centre of their proposition.” He also expects that with electric aircraft holding the key to a more sustainable aviation industry, the progress of this sector will accelerate in 2021 with Lilium, Joby, Eviation, MagniX, Pipistrel, Ampaire and XTI Aerospace all ones to watch within this space.

Twidell concluded that the pandemic is set to be a catalyst for change and with charter operators needing to combine to survive after such a challenging year we can expect to see “less fragmentation and the evolution of mega fleets… Big names – including our sister company Flexjet which has recently launched in Europe – will lead the way in setting standards.”






Editor’s comment: It’s a (no frills) wrap!

By Airports, Business Aviation, FeaturedNo Comments

With the countdown to the end of the year now in full swing, this is typically a time to reflect on the highs and lows of the past 12 months. And it’s fair to say there have been rather more lows than highs for many in the aviation sector, but that doesn’t mean we can’t finish 2020 on a festively positive note!

Following the recent roll out of Pfizer’s vaccine, this week has seen regional hubs around the world, including Gerald R. Ford Airport in the US, stepping up to the challenge of serving as gateway’s to transport the vaccine, which needs to be stored at -70°C throughout the transportation process. The first cargo plane carrying Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for domestic use departed the Michigan hub on 13 December and is expected to be the first of tens of thousands of shipments that will deliver the life-saving vaccine to locations around the world.

Meanwhile, according to PrivateFly’s annual Private Jet Charter trends report for 202o, its clients have flown between an impressive 648 airports this year, which according to PrivateFly CEO, Adam Twidell, is three to four times more than major airline route networks.

“2020 has certainly been an unusual year, but I’m very grateful that private aviation has not seen demand fall in quite the same way as airlines or other travel sectors,” said Twidell. “In fact at PrivateFly we have seen increased demand for private jet travel during the pandemic.”

He added that, “Private aviation has always offered the convenience of using smaller airports to get closer to your destination, but this year we’ve provided a huge number of bespoke routings, due to repatriations and other atypical itineraries.”

Twidell concluded that with vaccines now on the horizon, “travel confidence is increasing and while much of the usual business travel provided by our sector is still on hold, we are optimistic for continued growth in 2021”.

Although commercial airlines have struggled for survival amid the impact of the global pandemic, according to LIFT Airlines co-founder, Gidon Novick, there has never been a better time to launch a new carrier. The start-up South African low-cost airline serving key domestic routes from O. R. Tambo including Cape Town and George Airport, flew its maiden flight on 10 December.  Its aim is to fly in the face of the “outdated supply-drive, high-debt airline model. Instead it’s time for a demand-driven business model. One that’s super-efficient, leverages off record low input costs and is both agile and flexible,” said Novick.

And despite Australia’s international borders remaining closed, the country is experiencing a surge in domestic travel with airports across the country welcoming the news that Jetstar, the homegrown low-cost carrier, is set to operate more domestic flights in February and March 2021 than ever before.

As we wrap up this crazy and challenging year, there’s no doubt that 2020 has been a reset for the industry. Nonetheless, as airports and airlines are already demonstrating, there is plenty to be hopeful for in 2021.

On that note I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your support this year and to wish you happy holidays and a safe and prosperous 2020. The next Regional Gateway newsletter will be sent on 7 January, but you can still follow us online and on social media until then. In the meantime my parting gift to you for 2020 is the latest issue of Regional Gateway magazine, which is out now!

Best wishes,

Chloë Greenbank

Editor, Regional Gateway