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Luxury lifestyle brands benefit from private flyers
Private Jet Card Comparisons is pointing to a strong appetite for private flights. 93.2 per cent of consumers who began flying privately after the the COVID-19 pandemic started say they are continuing to fly privately.

New research from Private Jet Card Comparisons offers good news for private aviation, the greater travel industry, high-end restaurants, wine and spirits brands, yacht brokers and real estate agents, organisers of sporting events and outdoor activities, auto dealers and even watch and jewellery sellers.

The results are based on over 300 responses from paid subscribers to Private Jet Card Comparisons, a buyer's guide, which compares more than 80 fractional, jet card, membership and jet-sharing providers by more than 65 variables.

The research found private jet flyers are optimistic about their personal financial outlook. Helping private jet providers, respondents said deteriorating airline service is leading them to increase their use of private aviation. What's more, there has been minimal attrition of those users who started flying privately after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

“This is very good news, not only for the private aviation providers, who are dealing with increased costs, labour and supply chain issues but especially for related industries that benefit from the spending of private flyers into the economy,” says Doug Gollan, founder and editor-in-chief of Private Jet Card Comparisons. “Supporting the optimism, respondents are very bullish about their own financial outlook over the coming two years.”

73.1 per cent of respondents said they are extremely confident/very confident about their personal financial outlook over the next 12-to-24 months, with half of that number (36.1 per cent of the total sample) saying they are extremely confident. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed (24.1 per cent) said they are somewhat confident about their personal financial outlook. Only 2.7 per cent said they were not so confident or not confident at all.

In addition to confidence in their personal finances, airlines are helping push users to fly private. 52.4 per cent of those surveyed said they are or will fly privately more because of poor airline service, consistent with 2022 at 54.3 per cent.

One respondent notes: “I would have flown commercial airlines more often if it weren't such a disaster.”

Another adds: “Just had two missed connections on a trip last two weeks due to tight connections and delayed first leg. Both flights plane was still at the gate but closed. Very frustrating in that it caused us to stay overnight in hub cities to catch another flight the next morning. Really a major pain.”

The net impact appears to be a strong appetite for private flights. 93.2 per cent of consumers who began flying privately after the the COVID-19 pandemic started say they are continuing to fly privately.

The percentage of new since Covid private flyers, who said they have stopped or plan to stop private flights, increased from 5.6 per cent to 6.8 per cent from 2022 to 2023, within the margin or error. However, the percentage of those new flyers who said they would use private aviation regularly increased from 39.9 per cent in 2022 to 50.7 per cent this year.

That number dropped from 57.1 per cent to 39.9 per cent from 2021 to 2022.

“It was a surprise to see the number of new private jet users who say they will fly privately on a regular basis tick back up significantly. It seems to be a function of their personal financial outlook, bad airline service and the convenience of private aviation,” Gollan goes on.

At the beginning of the pandemic, research from McKinsey showed only about 10 per cent of UHNWs who could afford to fly privately had been doing so. Powered by new flyers, private aviation saw record usage in 2021 and 2022.

“A lot of people believed new flyers would stop flying privately post-pandemic. So far, that is not happening in any large numbers,” Gollan states.

Of respondents who were flying privately before COVID, 51.1 per cent said their private flying is similar to before the pandemic, with 36.6 per cent saying they are flying privately more than before COVID, up from 28.8 per cent last year. Only 12.2 per cent of pre-COVID users say they are flying less. That's in line with 11.9 per cent from last year's survey.

“I continue to hear from subscribers who talk about the efficiency of flying privately, particularly between spoke cities, avoiding connections and those who can access more convenient airports. Private jets use over 5,000 airports in the US, compared to less than 500 with scheduled airline flights,” Gollan notes.

There is also good news for other industries that benefit from spending by private aviation flyers. When it comes to their passions, travelling for pleasure topped the list, as noted by 88.7 per cent of respondents. Fine dining (44.5 per cent), sports and the outdoors (38.7 per cent), yachts and boats (37.1 per cent), wines and spirits (37.1 per cent), real estate (36.3 per cent), health and wellness (34.8 per cent), luxury automobiles (30.1 per cent), arts and culture (23.8 per cent), and watches and jewellery (23.1 per cent) were cited as being of interest by a significant number of those surveyed.

“Private jet users spend on average over $80,000 when they visit a destination, not including airport services, so they drive a lot of money into local economies, and that's good news for the businesses in the places they are going,” Gollan reveals.

The optimistic outlook comes even though the average hourly rate for jet cards at the end of June 2023 was 31 per cent above December 2020, despite dropping the past two quarters. Increased prices were cited by 59.0 per cent of respondents as the top reason they are considering changing flight providers.

The results are based on more than 300 completed surveys returned between July 21 and July 30, 2023. 79 per cent of respondents use jet cards (spending an average of $275,000), 44 per cent charter trip-by-trip, 20 per cent have fractional ownership, 12 per cent own their private aircraft and three per cent fly on company jets. Additionally, nine per cent use jet sharing and by-the-seat providers, while 20 per cent say they share informally via rides on friends' private jets.

The survey is part of the 200-page 2023/24 Jet Card Report by Private Jet Card Comparisons, published annually in November. This year's edition includes new questions about how sustainability programmes factor in provider choice, concerns about the financial stability of providers, flexibility to move departure to avoid fees or save money and lifestyle interests.

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