Disruptions from strikes to labor shortages, cancelations, and delays are driving private jet demand in Europe.
According to the latest data from WingX, there were 47,554 charter and fractional private jet flights in Europe over the past four weeks, a 25% increase from 2021.
For the U.K., private jet charter and fractional departures were 90% above last year’s levels over the past month.
This month the operator of London’s Heathrow Airport told airlines to stop selling seats and reduce flights. According to various reports, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport officials told airlines it didn’t have enough baggage handlers. Security lines at airports from Stockholm to Frankfurt stretched for more than three hours.
The result is an increase in demand for the private jet charter market. But it is not all roses.
“We have been inundated with private jet inquiries this summer from people who have had their booked flight disrupted or are unsure about using carriers in the first place due to airport disruption. Earlier this month, we had a client whose commercial flight from Germany to London was canceled; they subsequently booked a private jet with us. It was their first time flying privately, and since then, they have returned to us with further inquiries to fly private again,” Andy Christie, Group Private Jets Director at broker Air Charter Service tells Private Jet Card Comparisons.
Marine Eugene, European Managing Director for Directional’s Flexjet, which sells fractional shares, and PrivateFly, which offers jet cards and on-demand charters, says, “Against the backdrop of so much disruption in the commercial airline sector and with on-demand private charter pricing so volatile, it’s clear that the certainty provided by jet cards and shared ownership is very attractive now, as we enter the summer peak.”
She adds, “All our program sales are very strong, and in the first half of 2022, we saw a 153% increase on our PrivateFly Jet Card sales versus last year, with June our highest sales month to date.”
Eymeric Segard, CEO of Geneva, Switzerland-based on-demand charter broker LunaJets, reports a 66% increase.
However, like the airlines, private jet providers also struggle with capacity and supply chain issues.
Christie says, “There has been a well-documented increase in demand with little increase in new aircraft entering the market to cope with the issue, so aircraft supply is being affected.”
He adds in destinations like Mykonos, where there are slot controls, “Customers (are) receiving slots that do not fit perfectly with their preferred schedule.”
Segard says there has been a fuel shortage in Nice. Also, St. Tropez has reduced operating hours, closing at 5:30 pm.
In one case, customers had to fly commercially after their private jet charter was canceled. “We had a Palma departure slot confirmed days in advance but taken back by airport authorities three hours before to allocate to a commercial aircraft. The replacement slot two hours later did not have a correspondent landing slot in Ibiza, and the whole flight was canceled. The furious passenger had to fly commercial; the only solution within the next 24 hours.”
Segard says people who call when their commercial flights are canceled are often surprised there is no availability for private jets until the next day.
What’s more, he says on-demand charter rates are now 30-50% higher than last year.
At NetJets, the world’s largest private jet operator, its President, Patrick Gallagher, says more of its fractional owners are flying transAtlantic privately. “We are seeing record demand from U.S. customers traveling to and from Europe this year due to pent-up demand,” he notes.
Segard puts it this way: “Business is booming, but not in the right way. Clients are paying more for a worse service. It is frustrating for them, us, and operators.”
He calls the current situation “Not good for the industry in general.”
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