Private Aviation Trends for 2021
The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has caused many private jet owners and flyers to adjust their practices. The initial fallout of COVID-19 in early 2020 saw many regular commercial and private flyers decide to forego flying and traveling in general. Now, as more businesses and areas slowly reopen, aircraft owners have had to readjust to the new safety demands and concerns of their customer base. As companies react to new concerns, the private jet industry is likely to evolve.
If you’re interested in booking private jets, you may want to know more about COVID-19’s impact on private aviation in 2020 and the private aviation trends for 2021 that could affect your flying experience.
COVID-19’s Impact on Private Aviation: What 2020 Taught Us
As people all around the world guard themselves against COVID-19, worries about sitting close to others in an enclosed area for an extended period of time led many to forgo commercial airline travel. Additionally, seating restrictions for social distancing on commercial airlines decreased the number of seats available for commercial flights.
Besides the fear of sitting in an enclosed plane with people they didn’t know, people also avoided flying commercially because of concerns about the airport. Many potential flyers didn’t want to wait in long security lines and use public restrooms, where their risk of contracting COVID-19 may increase. Since commercial airports facilitate the flights of thousands of flyers each day, people were wary of flying, as there weren’t any guarantees every flyer had been tested or wasn’t carrying the virus.
Besides safety at the airport and in airplanes, both the private aviation and commercial aviation sectors were affected by businesses going remote and a lack of open getaway destinations. For example, many companies had their employees work remotely, with teleconferencing taking the place of in-person meetings. As a result of this change to remote work, many business professionals didn’t need to fly via commercial or private aircraft.
Leisure travel also decreased, as many resorts and other prime destinations weren’t open or didn’t offer the same experience. With so many businesses closed, many people chose to stay home. For commercial flyers, the risk of flying to take a vacation was often too great to justify the risk. While private aviation was a much safer option, flyers often stayed home due to the closure of recreational businesses and other key services. Additionally, international restrictions barred many flyers from entering other countries.
Toward the end of 2020, more people were flying, though the numbers were still low. For example, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that compared to April 2019, April 2020 saw a 96% decrease in airline passengers. This trend continued throughout the year, as they state that compared to October 2019, the number of U.S. airline passengers in October 2020 was down by 62% in total. Additionally, domestic travel was down by 60%, while international travel was down by 77%.
An Increase in Private Jet and Aircraft Use
While business travel has been slow to recover, leisure travel started to become more popular again in late 2020, with much more expected in 2021. Even with vaccine distribution and reduced restrictions, many people still don’t trust commercial airlines for their personal and leisure travel needs. With a decrease in commercial airline travel trust, many flyers turned to private jets and aircraft in 2020.
This trend of flyers utilizing private jets for personal and leisure travel rather than business travel is likely to continue in 2021. Many anticipate that business travel will become less important in the age of teleconferencing even when the threat of COVID-19 subsides. However, after extended times in lockdowns, the desire to travel in luxury and visit must-see destinations will likely only continue to increase as more and more locations open up.
In 2020, many travelers prized private jets for their privacy and ability to reduce contact with other flyers. In 2021, this trend is expected to continue, as the nature of private aviation keeps the volume of people aboard charter flights small. In addition to privacy, there are many evergreen benefits of private jet travel customers can harness. For example, in 2020, private and corporate aviation companies provided a diverse set of clients, from corporate workers to families, with faster travel and a more luxurious experience.
Overall, COVID-19 had a major impact on commercial and private flying in 2020. Though there was a decrease in flying commercially, the year represented a huge opportunity for private charter jets, as they could offer greater safety for flyers. All of the ways flying changed in 2020 are likely to play a huge role in 2021, with the industry poised to evolve significantly.
The Future of Private Jet Travel in 2021
The attractiveness of private jet travel to many flyers is likely to lead to many private jet charter industry changes. These changes will likely affect both private jet owners and charter clients. For instance, many expect to see private jet owners invest more in greater sanitation efforts and upgraded digital technology. Those in the private aviation industry also expect to see more first-time flyers and clients traveling with their pets and children.
If you are interested in the private aviation market, here are some of the top private jet trends expected in 2021.
1. Additional Sanitation Efforts
Since flyers are increasingly concerned with sanitation and private aviation companies want to keep their passengers safe, companies across the private jet charter industry have placed a greater focus on sanitation. By nature, private jets are much easier to keep clean, with fewer passengers to account for and space to maintain social distancing while on board. Expect to see corporate aviation companies highlighting the ease of social distancing while on their flights.
Besides social distancing, private jet charter companies will likely prioritize increased cleanliness standards inside the private aircraft and at private terminals and FBO (fixed base operator) facilities to draw in customers seeking sanitary environments. For example, many private aviation companies prioritize safety by providing staff and flight crews with face masks. These masks meet current COVID-19 guidelines for reducing the spread of the virus. By providing high-quality masks to their staff and flight crews, companies can better protect their passengers and employees.
Another one of the major private jet trends expected by many is to see increased COVID-19 testing for crews and staff, especially for those who haven’t been vaccinated. Additionally, multiple temperature checks a day will likely continue to be a popular preventative measure, as these checks can identify crew members or staff with fevers, sending them home before they spread an illness.
Along with testing and temperature checks, private jet operators will continue to prioritize cleanliness in their aircraft interiors and facilities. Intensive cleaning practices utilizing heavy-duty sanitizers were already in full swing in 2020 and will continue into 2021. Many expect to see companies following other safety practices, like removing newspapers and magazines from planes and terminals. Additionally, private operators will likely conduct more vetting of their ground transportation partners to ensure they’re following safety practices.
2. More First-Time Flyers
COVID-19 presents an opportunity for the private aviation market, as consumers are looking for safer ways to fly. Due to the desire for a safer flying experience, the market will likely expand its customer base, with more first-time private jet passengers expected. While some flyers may have previously avoided private airfare due to cost, the increased cleanliness and easier social distancing may make jet charters well-worth the money in these potential customers’ minds.
Since there may be a chance to bring in flyers who aren’t used to flying private, the private jet charter industry will likely see greater marketing efforts geared toward these potential customers. This new customer base will probably come from those who regularly fly first-class or business class. While previous marketing efforts focused on the luxurious experience and faster flight, operators now have the opportunity to also appeal to potential flyers by highlighting the increased safety and hygiene of private jets.
In addition to safety, the private jet industry can also focus on the greater safety of their facilities and boarding process. Instead of waiting in lines, many flyers can drive right up to a private jet and enter it with minimal contact with other people. Additionally, flyers can wait at private facilities where companies keep contact with staff and other flyers to a minimum.
3. Use of Digital Technology
Corporate aviation has been implementing more advanced digital technology in their facilities and private jets for a while now to improve the experience of flyers. For example, digital tech like in-flight Wi-Fi is quite popular as it allows passengers to do work or unwind during the flight. With the spread of COVID-19, more digitization is expected to reduce the number of touchpoints and enhance passengers’ convenience throughout key steps, like placing a charter flight, checking in, paying, boarding, and disembarking.
To attract flyers and give them more peace of mind while flying, it’s likely the private jet industry will see an increase in a few key pieces of digital technology. To provide passengers with critical information for their safety, companies can implement technology that sends real-time information, news about the current COVID-19 restrictions at destinations, and status alerts if anything changes. Additionally, companies can make the buying process easier and safer in their facilities and on jets through the use of technology with contactless payment options.
4. More Routes to Eliminate Connecting Flights
Connecting flights put passengers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, as they’re more likely to come in contact with other flyers or people while switching to another plane. These dangers of connecting flights are especially worrying for commercial flyers since their exposure to other people will significantly increase while passing through terminals. Private operators have greater flexibility in their ability to reduce connecting flights.
While commercial flights often need connecting flights to facilitate the needs of thousands of passengers, private aircraft can fly into smaller and more remote airports that commercial airlines can’t access. This allows private aircraft to fly direct routes to a passenger’s destination of choice.
You may even see private jet operators offering special deals to passengers who only want to fly to more remote destinations. Operators can also change their routes to reduce any need for stops or connecting flights. All of these offerings can appeal to people who regularly fly commercial but want to reduce their need for connecting flights and the risks that come with them.
5. Sustainable Aviation Fuels
In the midst of COVID-19, many passengers are becoming more interested in aircraft running on sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). With the increased demand for socially responsible practices, such as wearing a mask and staying socially distant, many people’s priorities have shifted to greater social responsibility across other aspects of their lives as well.
A recent GobalData survey found that for 43% of respondents, a service or product’s ethical, environmental, and social responsibility influences their buying decisions. Private jet owners employing SAFs can appeal to these greater demands for ethical and environmentally responsible products or services.
When compared to fossil jet fuels, experts see SAFs as a clean substitute. Unlike fossil fuels made from petroleum, SAFs come from sustainable sources, like non-fossil CO2, agricultural residues, and waste oils. Since these fuels offer a more environmentally-friendly option than petroleum-based ones, airlines can use them to attract customers interested in sustainability and social responsibility. Customers with personal sustainability goals will be much more attracted to taking private jets running on SAFs rather than commercial flights fueled by petroleum.
Besides attracting flyers with sustainability concerns, operators that switch to SAF fuels in 2021 can stay ahead of potential regulations. As fossil-fuels fall out of favor, commercial and private aircraft will face public pressure, and possibly regulation, concerning the use of fossil fuels. If an operator gets ahead of the curve now, they can set up the needed relationships with SAF companies to supply their fleet and avoid falling behind other forward-thinking businesses.
6. Increasing Private Jet Ownership
The private aviation market may see new private jet owners who want to travel for business or personal reasons on their own terms. Sellers of small aircraft and private jets may see a spike in sales, with buyers wanting greater safety and convenience in their flying experience.
Additionally, many FBOs expect to see more private jet owners looking to use their facilities and services. An increase in aircraft maintenance, hangaring, fueling, tie-downs, and other relevant services could all see more demand in 2021.
7. Younger Passengers and Pets
While business aviation has slowed due to the reliance on remote meetings, leisure travel has recovered quicker. Families with children and pets are expected to use charter flights more regularly in 2021. Due to these expectations, private jet operators will likely begin to offer greater accommodations for pets and children.
To appeal to families with small children, operators may outfit their planes with booster seats and sleeping areas where a child can nap comfortably. Private jets can also invest in on-board entertainment systems designed for children to help them stay occupied on a long flight. Additionally, many private jets also offer toys and books for children to play with or read while flying.
Forward-looking operators will also store refreshments that are healthy and appropriate for children. Private jet staff should be trained to handle milk and baby food as well, storing it in appropriate locations that are easy for parents to access while in flight. Private jet travel can also offer greater flexibility for parents who need to bring medications on board that might be subject to liquid limits and other restrictions on commercial flights.
8. Minimizing Costs
Operators and flyers in the private jet charter industry are both going to be looking for ways to lower their costs. With the lowered demand for flights, private jets have lowered their prices and offered special deals to attract potential customers. Since there’s a new customer base of those used to flying first-class on commercial aircraft, these travelers are likely looking for the most economical but safe and secure flight possible.
Of course, private jet owners still have to deal with several costs related to the operation of their jets. Factors such as insurance, fuel, and a limited number of qualified pilots can all raise costs.
To remain profitable and provide more affordable prices to customers, jet owners will need to source parts and maintenance services at a lower cost. As a result, the industry will likely see jet owners searching out cost-efficient suppliers offering high-quality products and services. FBOs may also play a larger role in procuring affordable flights for their clients, working with brokers to provide potential flyers with more appealing proposals.
How the Private Jet Industry Is Poised to Evolve
With all of the likely trends for 2021, the private jet industry is poised to undergo a significant evolution. This evolution is likely to continue even when the dangers of COVID-19 subside, as passengers will have different expectations for their private flying experience.
Find out more about how the private aviation industry is uniquely equipped to handle the new priorities of clients:
- Need for safety and security: While COVID-19 is a more immediate worry for flyers, the desire to reduce one’s exposure to other diseases and viruses could continue to be a big consideration. The private aviation market has a great opportunity to continue to respond to these concerns by working on ways to deliver a more hygienic flying experience.
- Desire for affordability: Private aviation costs are likely to stay lower while flying is down, leading flyers to begin to expect a lower price point for their flights, even after the pandemic. To avoid losing a new customer-base by spiking costs, operators may start to offer more special packages and flights at lower costs. Private jet owners are poised to increase their focus on finding parts and other services at cost-effective prices to offer more affordable flying packages.
- Demand for personal flying: As business flying has declined, the influx of private flyers on personal trips has increased. Due to the growth of new private flyers, operators may see greater demand from those on personal trips. These new flyers have different needs and concerns than business flyers, with private jets ready to accommodate them due to their flexibility.
- Change to necessity rather than a luxury: Many flyers have started to see private jet travel as a necessity for safe travel rather than solely a luxury experience. In 2021, we may see a general shift in passengers’ views of private aviation, as customers see it as a necessary expense to keep themselves safe. If this shift in opinion occurs, companies will likely adjust their marketing efforts to promote the benefits of flying on a private jet.
Charter Your Next Flight With Latitude 33 Aviation
At Latitude 33, we’re prepared to offer all of our clients a luxurious and safe flying experience. As we operate the biggest and most cutting-edge fleet of light jets in the United States, we’re able to get you to your destination fast. We understand the safety concerns of our clients, and our crews are trained to observe COVID-19 guidelines. When flying with Latitude 33, you can expect the ultimate in comfort and privacy.
Charter your next flight with Latitude 33 Aviation by requesting a quote. If you have any questions, please contact us, and our staff at our concierge charter department will be happy to speak with you about how we can accommodate your needs.