The capacity strained market of large aircraft available for charter is getting a boost as Crystal has changed course and will fully offer its VIP Crystal Skye Boeing 777-200LR on the charter market. Previously the widebody jet which will be delivered new in August was slated to operate a series of private jet tours beginning with an around-the-world itinerary stopping at every Peninsula Hotel.
Unlike the private jet tour itineraries which are sold by the seat, Crystal will now sell the plane as whole aircraft on-demand charter. The company said it has already signed a 10-day charter from Hong Kong in September.
Commercial airlines have long operated charter flights for professional and college sports teams, using aircraft that would not have been flying on the weekends. Several airlines also have specially configured aircraft for the sports team and executive charters, however, as airlines have retired older planes and demand has increased, some airlines have been canceling their contracts leaving a shortage.
At the same time, the once-ballyhooed private jet tour may not be as robust as believed. For example, Fours Seasons Hotels and Resorts currently only has three itineraries listed between now and the end of 2018. Abercrombie & Kent likewise shows only two itineraries through the end of 2018. Its offering next year is in conjunction with The New York Times. In 2015 luxury magazine Robb Report had marketed a 23-day private jet tour on similar 50-seat luxury Boeing 757, but the trip never took place. Crystal Skye will have 84 sleeper bed seats with a lounge, dining room, bar and wine cellar.
In addition to the demand for sports charters in the U.S., the Crystal 777 will likely be popular with Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) families for private charters, such as weddings, birthdays and other celebrations. The plane should also be popular for corporate charters, such as incentives or taking clients to major events such as the Super Bowl, Olympics, Art Basel or the Kentucky Derby. Crystal, which separately operates a Bombardier Global Express for on-demand charter has seen demand from clients who want the company to create their own itineraries where they don’t have to share the plane with people they don’t know.
“We are delighted to deploy Crystal Skye to the Asia-Pacific region for the first inaugural AirCruise, as Crystal’s presence and brand awareness among luxury travelers of the area is increasing significantly,” said Crystal CEO and President Edie Rodriguez in a press release announcing the new direction. “Crystal Skye presents incomparable luxury travel options for guests and groups who wish to explore global destinations, events and culinary delights in multiple places, flying non-stop up to 19 hours between destinations in our exclusively appointed Boeing 777.
“The seamless luxury of the celebrated Crystal Experience has long extended to corporations and private charter groups seeking the most enticing incentive experiences possible for chartered travel and events,” adds Rodriguez. “Our growing fleet of luxury vessels only increases the options available for these guests, as the standard of customized luxury and personalized service remains unparalleled throughout the Crystal fleet.”
Travelers booked on the previously-scheduled Crystal AirCruises journeys in 2017 and 2018 will receive a full refund and a complimentary experience on a Crystal Ocean or River cruise in either 2017 or 2018.
HNA Group last October debuted a VVIP Boeing 787 through DeerJet offering it on a combination of preset itineraries and on-demand charter. By canceling the scheduled itineraries, Crystal makes its Boeing 777 more attractive to the charter market, which previously had to work around the scheduled private jet tours.
Crystal Skye is operated for Crystal AirCruises by Comlux Aruba NV. Crystal Luxury Air is operated by Corporate Flight Management, Inc. For charter inquirers, in the U.S. you can call 855-207-2778 or 1-786-971-1010 (international calls); and in China (86) 400 800 0348 and Hong Kong (852) 2378 5760.