Private Jet Fractional and Charter travel off to a strong start for Memorial Day weekend

By Doug Gollan, May 25, 2020

Comparing Argus private jet flying from this year to Memorial Day 2019 shows the strongest rebound data yet

Expectations that private jet travel will lead the recovery of air travel continued at the start of this holiday weekend.

Data from Argus showed flight activity for fractional and charter operators continued to trend up during the start of the Memorial Day weekend.

The two largest fractional players, Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets and OneSky Flight’s Flexjet and Flight Options, represent 85% of the market.

Meanwhile, charter flights were even more robust. The biggest player is Wheels Up Group and its Gama Aviation Signature, Delta Private Jets, and TMC Jets. Other top 10 Part 135 operators include Vista Global Holdings’ XOJET Aviation, Executive Jet Management, a subsidiary of NetJets, plus FlyExclusive, Jet Linx Aviation, and Solairus Aviation.

Argus doesn’t break out specific operators. However, the picture for the start of the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. was bright across private aviation.

Comparing the same days in 2020 to 2019, from Wednesday through Saturday, there were 2,720 flights by fractional share operators. That represented 56% of last year’s total.

Private Jet flights peak on Memorial Day Saturday

On Saturday, there were 568 flights compared to 833 in 2019, so 68% of the previous year’s levels. During the entire month of April, fractional operators flew just 20% of 2019 levels.

Argus data for fractional operators includes flights for their fractional share, lease, and jet card customers.

Part 135 charter, which covers on-demand charter and jet card flights, also enjoyed a positive start to the weekend. Flights on Wednesday prior to the holiday were at 58% of last year’s levels reaching the 71% mark on Saturday. For the Wednesday to Saturday period, charter flights were at 64% of 2019 numbers.

Airline travel is finally seeing a slight rebound. Passengers passing through TSA checkpoints recovered to just over 10% of 2019 volume for the start of the Memorial Day weekend.

Private jet travel’s rebound is predicated on the expectation more affluent consumers will seek to reduce Covid-19 exposure. Reduction in airline schedules and cities served may also drive more businesses and families to fly privately.

Various analyses show only 10% of those who can afford to fly privately, had been doing so prior to the pandemic. It’s estimated there are at least one million households and businesses in the U.S. that have the financial resources to use private aviation.

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