Private jet flyers to lead business travel recovery, according to VistaJet survey

By Doug Gollan, June 15, 2021

A VistaJet/WSJ survey of C-suite executives predicts business travel and meetings are set to spike led by private aviation users

A survey of 200 C-suite executives by WSJ and VistaJet forecasts business travel post-pandemic is coming back stronger than ever. That includes private flights. It comes after 97% of respondents say their companies experienced negative impacts directly related to business travel restrictions.

It is hard to read a room when everyone is in individual windows on a screen…And these, in turn, can become costly mistakes

Ian Moore, VistaJet, Chief Commercial Officer

Regular private aviation users – those taking eight or more private flights a year – will be leading the pack. Six in 10 (60%) plan to significantly increase in-person meetings, compared with 38% of total respondents. Additionally, 81% said business travel will be more important than ever to driving success.

Regular private jet users

In the year before the pandemic, 86% had flown privately for business, using either full or fractional ownership, jet cards, membership programs, or on-demand charter. According to the researchers, the same percentage had also flown roundtrip on commercial first-class. Virtually all — 96%— took at least one business class commercial roundtrip.

Respondents represented a cross-section of industries from technology to financial services, manufacturing, real estate, and investment banking. Half are based in the U.S., with the rest split between Europe/Middle East and Asia/Pacific. All respondents head units with at least $300 million in annual sales, including 74% with over $1 billion in yearly revenues.

The vast majority of respondents – 87% of respondents — said their time is very valuable, and they look for opportunities to maximize results. That fed the 74% who said that flying private is a driver of efficiency and success.

The report, citing FlightAware data, noted “even with tight restrictions across the world,” business aviation flights were trending between 85% and 90% of year-on-year volumes since July 2020. Private flights at second home airports are up between 30% and over 100% compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to Tuvoli.

Researchers attribute the fast recovery of private jet flying “either to observe social distancing guidelines in airports or on flights, or because so many commercial flights were canceled.”

Saving a client relationship worth more than $5 million was the top reason for scheduling a private jet flight – listed by 55% of respondents. Close behind (53%) was delivering on a commitment to a client worth $5 million. Nearly half said attending an important conference (46%) provided a reason to fly privately followed by 45% who cited closing a deal worth at least $5 million. Four in 10 indicated they would fly privately to meet with key government officials and legislators, while 31% would call for a private jet to meet a key prospective client. You know you’re special if the company recruiting you sends a private jet or at least part of the 29% who say they use private aviation to snag key recruits.

VistaJet/WSJ Future of Business Travel – Private Jet Usage

Priority Reasons to fly privatelyPercentage
Save a client relationship worth more than $5M55%
Deliver on a commitment to a client worth more than $5M53%
Attend an extremely important conference or meeting46%
Close a deal worth more than $5M45%
Meet with key government officials and legislators40%
Meet a key prospective client31%
Hire a key talent29%

The report concludes, “Many business leaders feel that video conferences have failed to generate the same results as in-person meetings, and this paper shows their intuition is borne out by the experiences of executives from many countries, in many industries.”

JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and David Solomon of Goldman Sachs have been proponents of workers getting back to business in the traditional way.

“It is hard to read a room when everyone is in individual windows on a screen. Misunderstandings can occur, especially across cultures. And these, in turn, can become costly mistakes,” says Ian Moore, VistaJet’s chief commercial officer.

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