With the Coronavirus causing drops in flight bookings, and as many commercial airlines announce cuts in their flight schedules, Geneva-based brokerage LunaJets notes that demand for private jet services is skyrocketing as clients look to avoid crowded airports, packed cabins on commercial flights or to evacuate affected areas. Passengers want to travel as quickly as possible and avoid the immigration restrictions imposed by one country after another, and perceive private aviation as a way to decrease their risk of exposure.
“We have noticed a sharp rise in demand for business jet charter services,” says head of sales and development Alain Leboursier. “Over recent days, enquiries have increased by 45 per cent year on year. Flying private, clients will have limited contact during their journey to airport agents, mandatory security staff and crew.”
Aside from extra sanitary measures applied to the aircraft and crew, private flights are operating normally. CEO Eymeric Segard adds: “LunaJets only works with certified private jet operators following EASA recommendations to protect passengers and crew. Our clients' safety is our top concern.”
Yet the seriousness of the situation adds numerous challenges when flying in and out of affected regions. “The situation is resulting in added complexity and longer lead times,” notes Leboursier. The company has reinforced its operations team in order to continuously follow the situation and changes in regulations.
New York-based charter service FlyBlack is serving a broader range of passengers than ever before, and the influx of passengers is causing operators to scramble to meet their needs.
“We've seen a noticeable spike in demand as the impacts of the coronavirus grow,” says co-founder and CEO Sami Belbase. “It's like nothing we've ever seen, and we're working hard to accommodate the needs of travellers, many who are new to the charter jet market.”
And while the spread of the coronavirus has no foreseeable end in sight, and as the number of those affected each day increases, Belbase believes more and more clients will be turning to providers to provide minimal disruption to their lives.