NEW RESEARCH: COVID-19 Coronavirus private aviation impact survey

By Doug Gollan, March 20, 2020

The just-completed survey of Private Jet Card Comparisons’ subscribers shows a relatively optimistic outlook for 2020 private flight activity

Flights to relocate family members and employees, critical business trips, and travel to second homes, could help boost the fortunes of the private aviation industry immediately and in the coming months, according to a just-completed subscriber survey by Private Jet Card Comparisons.

Private Jet impact on the economy

Business aviation and private jet travel are responsible for over 1.2 million jobs and $247 billion in economic input in the U.S. alone, according to industry research from the National Business Aviation Association.

Earlier this week, several private aviation trade groups asked Congressional leaders for relief, citing the industry’s role in medical emergency flights and access to over 5,000 airports, compared to under 500 by the airlines.

Prior to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, 49% of respondents said they had expected their use of private aviation to be flat in 2020 compared to 2019, with 46% projecting increases this year, including 40% who forecast a double-digit increase in flight hours. Only 6% had expected to fly privately less.

33% of respondents still expect private flying to increase in 2020

With the current COVID-19 Coronavirus health and economic crisis, 33% of respondents said they still expect private flying to increase compared to last year; 30% now say flight hours will remain flat, with 37% now forecasting a decrease. Only 3% said they don’t expect to take any additional private flights in 2020.

The outlook for business aviation may not be as rosy as many reports about big increases in call volume, however, core private jet fliers expect to keep flying, even if the reasons are changing.

The results of the survey demonstrate the critical role private flights are playing in both relocation of family and employees as well as completing critical business trips.

Using private aviation to avoid Covid-19 exposure

Despite the decline of the stock market, when asked, “What will most likely influence your private travel in the next six months?”, 77% said, “reducing potential exposure to Coronavirus” versus 22% who cited “concerns about personal assets or company sales and profits compared to the cost of flying privately.”

Over the next 90 to 120 days, 46% said they expect to use private aviation to relocate family members as needed. Forty-five percent (45%) expect to visit a second home. While much business travel has grounded to a halt, 35% say they will use private jet access for “important business trips.”

Some 16% expect to use private aviation access to relocate business associates, while 19% say they expect to stay in a hotel or resort, and 13% will utilize private aviation to fly to rental villas and yachts.

Despite 39% canceling trips, 36% said they have made additional trips privately because of COVID-19.

Canceled trips include college visits, general business trips, and vacations. At the same time, several subscribers used private aviation to bring children home from colleges, and others cited airline flight cutbacks, reducing potential COVID-19 exposure, critical business meetings, and relocating family and employees as leading to extra, unplanned private flights.

Sixty-one percent (61%) said they had not canceled any trips due to the crisis.

Summer vacations by private jet

In an optimistic note, only 3% said they had canceled summer vacation plans that are “unlikely to change even if things get better.”  Nearly half of respondents (48%) said, “plans are continuing subject to change.”  Twenty-nine percent (29%) said, “Plans are canceled for now, but may reconsider later.”One-fifth (20%) Private Jet Card Comparisons’ subscribers said, “Plans may switch, but will take vacations this summer one way or another.”

Ultra-High Net Worth (UHNW) and High Net Worth (HNW) consumers are a critical segment for the travel market.  Private jet users spend an average of over $80,000 dollars in the destinations they visit, excluding aviation and airport services, meaning one private jet arrival can input as much money into a local economy as a fully loaded Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 airliner.

Many subscribers have multiple private aviation solutions, with 70% using jet cards, followed by on-demand private jet charter (44%), full aircraft ownership (24%), friends’ private planes (16%), fractional ownership (13%), and aircraft owned by companies they work at but don’t own (6%).

The Private Jet Card Comparisons audience is made up of heavy users of private aviation. On average, subscribers flew 111 private jet flight hours last year.  

The survey was conducted March 17-19, 2020 via Survey Monkey and has a margin of error of +/- 5%. An annual subscription to Private Jet Card Comparisons, inclusive of its Coronavirus Emergency Evacuation Private Aviation Options guide and personalized support, is $250.

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