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Airport chaos drives private jet business
More than half the subscribers to PJCC say they won't use scheduled airlines because of the current chaos at airports and with airlines. This preference for private flights comes despite price increases.

Despite attacks on celebrities such as Kylie Jenner, Drake and Taylor Swift for their use of private jets, 52 per cent of subscribers to private aviation buyers' guide Private Jet Card Comparisons say they are, or will, fly privately more because of the current chaos and cancellations with airlines and airports. According to PJCC research, nearly all those who started flying privately after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic are continuing to do so.

Airline service has become unreliable. American Airlines, for example, is cutting 7,000 flights from its September schedule, airports in Europe have seen delays of several hours to get through security, and at London's Heathrow airport a shortage of ground staff has meant some flights have been departing without passengers' luggage. FlightAware reports nearly 2,000 cancelled flights on just one Sunday.

“Subscribers are telling us they can't keep on missing meetings or arriving without their luggage. When airline flights get cancelled, they say it's often several days until they can get rebooked. When travelling with business colleagues and families, they are being told after their flights are cancelled that they must be split up and cannot travel together,” says PJCC founder and editor-in-chief Doug Gollan. “What's more, airlines have been reducing flight schedules, and airport officials are saying it's not going to get better for months, if not until next year.”

As part of the survey, nearly all private flyers that had started since the Covid-19 pandemic say they are sticking around.

The majority say they are continuing to fly privately, with only four per cent saying they have now stopped, or plan to stop.

The increased interest in private flights comes despite price increases. The average hourly cost of fixed/capped rate jet cards with guaranteed availability increased six per cent during Q2 after a five per cent jump in Q1. Since December 2020, hourly jet card prices have been 28 per cent higher and now average $10,770.

“Subscribers view private aviation as a solution to a problem and feel fortunate they can afford it. They created their wealth, and many jobs, through hard work building and starting businesses. The analogy is if the bus or train is always delayed, or doesn't go where you need to go, and if you can afford to have a car, naturally you use a car,” says Gollan. “Many sellers of jet cards, fractional ownership and on demand charter include options that allow customers to offset carbon emissions.”

Carbon emissions programmes are one of over 65 variables subscribers to Private Jet Card Comparisons can compare from more than 250 private aviation membership, jet card and fractional programmes.

According to No Plane, No Gain, private aviation usage is responsible for 1.1 million US jobs, and 42 per cent of private aviation flights are to communities with little or no airline flights. Globally, business aviation operations make up only 0.04 per cent of man-made carbon emissions. Private jets also make over 15,000 humanitarian flights per year and provide life-saving organ transplant flights, as well as bringing first-responders and resources after natural disasters.

Speaking of the firestorm surrounding celebrities, Gollan adds: “Much of the reporting failed to note that the short flights are repositioning the aircraft with just the crew, mainly because there is a shortage of hangar space at major airports, so aircraft owners must park their planes at a different airport. It's like when a valet goes to collect the car from a remote garage and brings it to you in front of a restaurant or hotel.

“The bottom line is it's unlikely these celebrities could maintain their schedules without private aviation. However, if celebrities want to tell the rest of us about the need to protect the environment, we should be asking them to show proof they are using carbon offsets and buying sustainable aviation fuel, which can reduce emissions by 80 per cent.”

The PJCC survey results come from over 300 subscribers, received between 29-31 July, 2022. Subscribers average 40 hours of private flights annually.

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