Van Nuys, California-based operator Planet Nine added a Bombardier Global Express to its managed fleet at the end of December, the third aircraft to go on to its Part 135 AOC since the pandemic took hold in March 2020.
Two more aircraft, a Global Express and Dassault Falcon 7X, are currently being readied to join the managed fleet by the end of February. Both will be available for charter, boosting the Planet Nine family of owned and managed aircraft to 14.
The operator, which has bases in Teterboro, New York, London and Lisbon, has seen more clients turn to the safe cabin environment of its private aircraft to keep their families protected during the pandemic. Much of its flying over the recent holiday season has been to the Caribbean Islands, especially the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, from both US and European airports.
“Our floating model aircraft operation has enabled us to support a wider range of charters and flight repatriations this year, often at short notice. We have flown for charter brokers on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as assisted with urgent medical professional flights,” says Matt Walter, Planet Nine co-founder and director of business development. “With the US borders still closed to people from the Schengen region and vice versa, leisure and business travel between North America and Europe continues to be very restrictive.”
The company was busiest in December and early January prior to the UK going into a second lockdown. The popularity for Caribbean travel from the US is expected to continue through to the end of January, Walter suggests, noting another trend is for last minute, 72 hours' notice of travel. “We have a range of ultra long range aircraft now, so are better able to fulfil these short-notice requests.”
Planet Nine's latest Global Express is configured for 14 seats in a three-zone cabin with an enclosed state room. Its range is 5,830 nm/12 hours' flying time. In common with other high spec aircraft in the Planet Nine fleet, the aircraft offers Ku-band wi-fi accessible via eight large iPads loaded with a selection of movies, enabling clients to be connected and entertained on their journeys. Up to 15 medium-sized cases can be carried in the cabin hold.
Supporting its expanding business, Planet Nine has added dedicated sales manager Zachary Schudrich, based in New York, and maintenance manager Alex Wellham, who is based in London.