What’s happening to the VIP Boeing 777 Crystal Skye? The widebody jet could be on the block as Crystal Cruises suspends operations following parent Genting Hong Kong’s insolvency.
Crystal Air Cruises had been operating the VIP airliner for on-demand charters during the pandemic. Richard Ziskind, who oversees the aviation division, says during Covid, the group pivoted to flying trips for UHNW family groups and hauling cargo.
Configured with 88 flat-bed seats and a forward cabin bar and lounge area, he says the aircraft, which has a 17-hour nonstop range, found a niche with the trend to full resort takeovers. That’s where a hotel allows one customer to buy out all its rooms.
While long-range private jets typically max out at around 10 passengers for long-haul flights, typical Covid groups on Crystal Skye numbered around 30. Typical trips were for clients from the U.S. flying to the South Pacific, Seychelles, and the Maldives, staying for 10 days, and then coming home.
Before the pandemic, the jumbo jet was doing about two charters a month, a mix of travel agencies putting together air safaris they then sold to their high-end clientele like Four Seasons, TCS, and Abercrombie & Kent do. It was also popular with sports teams and live entertainment tours.
Ziskind is leaving Crystal in early February. “I’m proud of what we created and what we’ve delivered. The very best of the Crystal brand in the air. We delivered an experience that time and time again charter customers and brokers from around the world labeled ‘the most luxurious aircraft in commercial aviation.”
Crystal Skye was the final aircraft in Crystal’s aviation division, which at one point included a Boeing 787 and Bombardier Global Express. While the former never entered service, the latter was used by cruise customers to fly by private jet to their voyages. It was sold to a sister casino company last year.
Ziskind says while there was a pipeline of future charters, there are no customer deposits currently being held. When Crystal Skye was first announced, the vision was it would offer a series of exotic air cruises around the year, covering all parts of the world.
While its business evolved from there, Ziskind says he believes there will be strong interest as the VIP travel market continues its surge.