The news continues to be good for the business aviation sector. Last week WingX and Argus reported U.S. private jet travel was approaching 70% of pre-COVID-19 coronavirus levels.
This morning on CNBC, Thomas Flohr, chairman of Vista Global Holdings, said flying for his company is approaching the 85% mark in the U.S.
Vista Global Holdings is the parent of VistaJet and XO, and a minority owner in U.S. Part 135 operator XOJET Aviation. The entities have a combined fleet of 115 super-midsize, large cabin, and ultra-long-haul private jets, including the Bombardier Global 7500.
Last year, XOJET Aviation ranked as the third-largest Part 135 operator in the U.S., according to Argus.
Flohr said the U.S. results are due to the fact there aren’t travel restrictions for domestic flights. He noted the opening of trans-border travel within Europe’s Schengen countries today will be countered by the quarantine being imposed by the U.K.
Flohr said overall he expects his company to be a beneficiary of increased demand for private jets as new customers seek “asset-light” solutions.
VistaJet and XO both position their membership options against both on-demand charter as well as fractional providers. While XO’s fixed-rate, guaranteed availability program starts at $100,000, VistaJet requires a three-year commitment and at least 50 flight hours per year.
However, various reports show a broadly rising tide. NetJets, the world’s largest operator of private jets, which uses the fractional ownership model, said May was its best month since 2007 for new customers.
Flohr also believes “business jets will fill the gap” providing nonstop flights in the many markets where airlines have cut or curtailed service. “We are helping restart the economy,” he said.
What’s also clear is new customers are driving the market. Flohr said 71% of new sales calls are from consumers who are new to the market or had limited experience.
“We believe this business model will…benefit to some degree because of the commercial infrastructure destruction. A lot of new people are coming into this marketplace because they need to travel.”
He said VistaJet was seeing pent-up demand leading up to the June 15th relaxation of travel restrictions in Europe.
Last week, VistaJet continued its partnership with leading travel designers by promoting a two-week private jet jaunt to Iceland. The trip which is designed to order and includes glaciers, diving, helicopters and all sorts of adventures is priced starting at 250,000 euros, without air.