Private jet charter companies played a large part in getting people home during lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Will they become a popular alternative for summer holidays this year?
Repatriation and Essential Travel
When lockdowns were introduced airlines stopped operations very quickly. Thousands of people were stranded and governments had the huge challenge of getting them home again. Hunt and Palmer, a private jet company, responded to requests to repatriate cruise ship passengers.
Private jets were a viable alternative for those who could afford them. Private Jet Charter experienced a 300% increase in passenger numbers during April and May compared to the same period last year. Travel restrictions apply to all airlines. There were rumours that wealthy people were using private jets to flee to second homes but most journeys satisfied the requirement of being essential. Recently, Charter-A flew some passengers to Holland so their daughter could get treatment.
Summer Holidays by Private Jet
Mark Zaiger at Charter-A reports that the market for holiday-makers has exploded with the majority of enquiries coming from people who have never flown on a private jet before. They want to get away, at any cost, which is understandable for two reasons. It will be sometime before there is a regular pattern of scheduled services. But perhaps more critical, travelling by private jet is much safer than travel on commercial flights. Passengers can avoid exposure to crowds, commercial cabins and terminal buildings. It is easier to implement safety procedures in a small jet than it is in an airbus. Commercial airlines are not enforcing the use of face coverings or social distancing. Some travellers will pay a high price to ensure their safety.
Other private jet companies report increased interest but not a significant increase in bookings for holidays. Price may not be the only consideration. Research indicates that the typical traveller on a private jet within Europe emits ten times as much greenhouse gas as an economy class passenger and 150 times more than a passenger on high-speed rail.
Lessening the Impact of Private Jet Travel on the Environment
Private jet companies are encouraged to follow an initiative started by Clive Jenkins, the founder of Victor aimed at reducing the environmental impact of private aviation. He has established a system of compensation for the carbon emissions of every charter flight booked through this digital market place. Generally, this will be through contributions to nature-based projects, including reforestation in Zambia and Brazil.
To quote Clive Jenkins: “We are always going to fly. It’s a person’s right to be able to enjoy a holiday; … If they decide to fly private with Victor, they are now helping to protect and save the environment.” Could Victor’s policy be a blueprint for commercial airlines?