Rich travelers choosing private aircrafts are aiding industry revival

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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This year, wealthier travelers skipping commercial flights during the pandemic are helping to bring a rebound in pre-owned corporate aircraft transactions and revive demand for new aircraft as the commercial aviation industry prepares for a slump in deliveries in 2020.

Jets designed as corporate aircraft, which can accommodate approximately a handful to 19 passengers, allude to less chance of coronavirus exposure because their passengers can skip airports and choose who comes on board in general.

With operators such as NetJets, a US-based private business jet charter and aircraft management company, reporting increased demand this year, private flights have largely recovered better than those of commercial airlines.

Corporate planemakers, such as Bombardier of Canada, have been watching to see if the leisure flight revival would translate into new aircraft orders.

Pre-owned jet transactions are roaring back to levels similar to 2019, while the industry is witnessing orders for new aircraft trickling in after a pandemic-induced slump, creating cautious optimism for corporate planemakers as they are set to begin announcing quarterly results soon.

“There’s just so much more activity than we anticipated four or five months ago,” said industry experts.

Since its peak of 1,317 deliveries in 2008, the private jet industry, which delivered 809 new business jets in 2019, has still not recovered, analysts said.

Executives credit the improvement in the pre-owned market to a combination of this year’s tax incentives in the United States, the largest corporate aircraft market in the world, along with demand from first-time and occasional business jet travelers, upgrades and charter companies.

In particular, small to super mid-sized aircraft which can carry up to 10 passengers are in demand for domestic leisure travel, executives said.

More first-time buyers and customers who used to travel commercially at least part of the time now prefer to fly private either because of COVID-19 concerns or because the airlines have brought down their schedules, experts said.