PrivateFly CEO predicts 2020 headlines

By Doug Gollan, December 18, 2019

Adam Twidell, boss of Directional Aviation OneSky’s on-demand private jet charter broker, sees business aviation making headlines next year

Adam Twidell, CEO of digitally forward private jet broker PrivateFly, recently had his crystal ball out for a look at 2020’s biggest bizav headlines.

Speaking of the past 12 months closer to home, he says, “It’s been an eventful and exciting year here at PrivateFly. Under OneSky, 2019 has seen us double our global presence and start to evolve to reap the benefits of being part of a wider group for our clients, suppliers, and partners.

Looking broadly, he adds, “The next 12 months are set to bring more innovation and growth – including steps forward in our technology and more exclusive on-demand offerings for our clients.  But what can the wider industry expect to see in 2020?”

Below are Twidell’s predictions.

Electric aircraft will accelerate

I believe business aviation will be the first sub-sector to implement electric aviation.

With current limitations on battery capacity (to weight), the first generation of certified electric aircraft will be small and short-range – rather than commercial airliners.

In fact, just last week we saw the world’s first all-electric commercial test flight take place in Canada in a small seaplane. And with around 200 electric aircraft programs in development globally, 2020 will see further key milestones reached, and further test flights recorded.

I think and hope we’ll also see more lobbying to governments to speed the progress of electrification, both in aircraft development and in regulation and infrastructure.

Sustainability communications at the forefront

Business aviation has been focussed on improving efficiency and mitigating its environmental impact in lots of ways, over many years. But with the awareness of climate change now accelerating rapidly, this year will see companies moving towards self-governance, and communicating their efforts more publicly.

Corporate and individual clients will become more thoughtful about who they choose to fly with. So for providers in our industry, a clear and considered sustainability strategy, will be an essential commercial consideration – as well as an environmental one.

This will also create business opportunities in business aviation (as in other industries) for tools and services to help companies manage and measure their carbon footprint, and to support their offsetting and other sustainability needs.

Brexit will be resolved (and London will remain at the top of Europe)

The uncertainty around Brexit has dented demand over the past year. With the UK so central to business aviation in Europe, and floating fleets operating fluidly across borders, this has affected the whole of Europe.

Following last week’s UK General Election, it now seems the terms of Brexit will be worked out in 2020, and we can start to move forward with more confidence and understanding of the UK’s new aviation relationship with the rest of Europe.

London has been the busiest city in Europe for business aviation activity for many years and I believe this will remain the case in 2020 – and beyond.

More industry consolidation

Business models are continuing to evolve rapidly in our sector, with some succeeding and growing, and some failing.

It’s never been more important for clients to have confidence in the stability of their private aviation provider. We’re already seeing this in the U.S. and I predict there will be more acquisitions, mergers and unfortunately some losses in Europe in 2020.

New aircraft models on the rise 

2019 saw many long-awaited new aircraft programs entering service, with shipments reaching the highest levels for a decade. 2020 can’t compete based on new models, but it is set to be a year of significant growth for several recent market entries.

Embraer’s new Praetor 600 will lead growth in the super-midsize pack and will soon be joined by its sister the Praetor 500. (Directional’s Flexjet made a billion-dollar order including both Praetors during NBAA). At the top of the market, Bombardier is set to ramp up deliveries for the Global 7500.

Further down the size spectrum, I think we’ll see notable growth in deliveries for the Pilatus PC-24. 

And 2020 will also be a big year for the HondaJet, which will hold its crown as the most-delivered Very Light Jet, and see more growth in the on-demand charter market.

More extreme weather demand

Over the past few years, we’ve seen major spikes in on-demand charter activity related to extreme weather events. From flooding to forest fires hurricanes and heavy snowfall, private aviation can fly in quickly, when and where required.

With these events seemingly becoming more frequent, we’re expecting more of this type of demand in 2020.

The Euro 2020 championships will be a welcome boost in Europe

While economic and market conditions will remain challenging in Europe, the summer of 2020 is set to see the industry receive a welcome boost by the UEFA 2020 European Championships.

To mark the 60th anniversary, the Championship will be hosted across Europe in 12 stadium venues, which is likely to fuel additional on-demand travel requests from teams, corporates, sponsors and groups of fans – particularly in the latter stages when fans will want to travel at short notice.

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