COVID-19 shakes up private jet charter booking patterns

By Doug Gollan, October 14, 2020

Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic’s changing border restrictions and quarantines, there were major changes to private jet charter bookings during the July to September period.

While there have been endless reports about the influx of newcomers – PrivateFly said their share increased to 44% from 35% – some of the other changes were perhaps expected but had not been previously reported.

Its quarterly Private Jet Charter Trends report, tech-led U.K.-based private jet charter broker PrivateFly noted shorter lead times, more pets, more kids, and a much more regional focus for flights.

Fewer consumers booked the flights more than 30 days in advance, with those numbers plummeting to 8% from 22%. However, customers weren’t necessarily waiting until the last minute, with bookings inside a week rising from 48% to 55%.

Still, 3% flew the same day they booked with one customer taking off just 3 hours, 20 minutes after calling.

The average number of passengers per flight dropped from 4.1 to 3.92. However, the number of customers under the age of 16 rocketed from 14% to 20%. Likewise, the number of private jet flying with pets more than doubled to 7% from 3%.

Perhaps reflecting the end of quarantines in June, desktop searches for flights dropped from 36% to 29%. Mobile queries increased from 55% to 66%.

PrivateFly’s longest charter was a journey from San Jose, California to London, some 10 hours, 16 minutes. However, all the top 20 destinations in quarter three were all in Europe. London, Nice, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, and Geneva rounded out the five busiest. Overall, the broker’s customers visited 232 airports.

The unit of Directional Aviation (Flexjet, SentientJet, FXAIR) said in total bookings were “slightly more” than 2019.

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