After a busy year in which PrivateFly was acquired by the Directional Aviation family of companies (Sentient Jet, Flexjet, Skyjet, Nextant Aerospace), its CEO Adam Twidell offered his crystal ball on the issues private jet travelers and the industry will see in 2019. Below are his comments:
Make or Break for Shared Charter Programs
For the past few years, there has been lots of noise around and investment in the seat-sharing business model for private jets. However, the viability of this particular business has yet to be proven with many companies reporting losses in previous years. This will be the make or break year for these businesses.
Consumers and businesses are prioritizing green initiatives more than ever before and the private aviation industry is no different. Commercial airline and larger charter operators will be monitored this year under the carbon offsetting program. Last year, large investments in electric aircraft got these models off the ground. This year, the big focus will be on the regulation of and supporting infrastructure for these greener types of aircraft.
We’ve seen an increasing trend towards consolidation of businesses within the industry over the past few years, including our own acquisition by Directional Aviation. In 2019, the market will see more mergers and acquisitions. This will prove to be a benefit to not only the industry but also the customer.
Bespoke Travel Offerings
The trend of personalized travel will continue to grow in 2019 with the consumer being more purposeful about every minute of their holidays, including the flight experience. Travelers are seeking further customization in the booking process; from choosing exact seating configurations on their charter flights to specific catering requests. In early 2018, PrivateFly became a Virtuoso Preferred partner, marking our commitment to the professional travel community. The Virtuoso Luxe Report, released by the luxury travel company, notes that one of the five travel trends revealed is ‘an overarching movement toward personalization – shaping how upscale travelers will roam the world in 2019.’
The Impact of Regulation
This year the private aviation industry will have to grapple with a number of global regulatory challenges. In the US, the clock is ticking loudly for the incoming 2020 ADS-B requirement set by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) which will require older aircraft go through expensive upgrades to their tracking systems in order to comply. (Europe follows suit in June 2020). This will impact the pre-owned market, and potentially increase charter costs on aircraft over 10 years old. In addition, the Part 295 regulations coming in February will impact large swatches of the charter market in terms of deliverability. Over in Europe, Brexit will have a major impact, but it is unclear exactly how at this stage.
Extreme Weather-Related Travel
Over the past few years, we’ve seen major spikes in on-demand charter activity related to extreme weather events. From forest fires to flooding, to hurricanes and heavy snowfall, private aviation can fly in quickly, when and where required. With these events seemingly getting more frequent, we’re expecting more of this type of demand in 2019.
The Digital Communication Tipping Point
While our industry is highly customer-oriented, a surprising number of companies are still stuck in old communication ways. In 2019, we’ll see a tipping point when it comes to clients expecting instant, two-way communication – on their own terms. Offering a truly multi-channel service, that includes social media, chat platforms, instant messaging and 24-hour phone support will become a key sales differentiator.
A Shake-Up in the Super-Midsized Jet Market
The super-midsize segment will be one to watch this year, as Embraer’s Praetor 600 enters the market alongside Textron’s Citation Longitude – both manufacturers first forays into this key market segment which can perform transatlantic and cross-continental flights. Both will be vying to dethrone the popular Bombardier Challenger 350, which was the most-delivered aircraft of 2017.
Increased Demand for Ultra-Long-Range Jets
Following the trend seen in the airline segment, at the top of the market we expect to see more long-range clients looking to fly further and choosing higher-priced non-stop flights over fuel stops – for faster overall journey time and uninterrupted sleep. All eyes are on the Global 7500 as it enters service, out flying the current ‘fastest and furthest’ G650ER.