Dubai: After India and Pakistan, private jet demand on the UK-UAE routes too have taken a hit over tighter regulations and quarantining measures.
The UAE remains on the UK ‘red list’, which means a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine on arrival in the UK. This is “discouraging direct travel in both directions,” said Oliver Hewson, founder of Jet83 Advisory.
This is made worse by the fact that entry to the UK from UAE is only permitted for British and Irish nationals, or for UK residents. Wales and Northern Ireland closed their ports of entry to arrivals from ‘red list’ countries to ensure that travelers use quarantine facilities in England and Scotland.
Switzerland-based ExecuJet has not recorded any increased demand for UK flights since the start of the second quarter, according to a spokesperson. “We have had only five requests in the whole of May and zero requests in April,” he added.
The UAE was placed on UK's 'red-list' in January. Although the UAE has managed to contain the virus spread with one of the fastest vaccination programmes anywhere, the UK has so far not given the green light to UAE’s aviation authorities.
Not much change on rates
In terms of charter fares, the hourly rates do not fluctuate much, unless there are major shifts in fuel price. “However, with depressed volumes of charter traffic between the UK and the UAE, it is harder to find ‘empty leg’ deals that are attractively priced because re-positioning fees are excluded,” said Hewson.
A business jet with 10 to 13 seats is typically sold at $6,000 per hour; so a return trip for this route, with a few days on the ground, would be in the region of $90,000. A one-way trip could be as low as $45,000.
The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) recently warned that operators selling seats individually on UAE-bound chartered flights from COVID-19 hotspots will be banned from flying in the country.
"When business aircraft are used to transport passengers from restricted destinations, they shall not be pooled or sold per seat,” said the regulator. “Operators hired for pooling or ‘per seat offer’ may be banned from operation in the UAE.”
Corridors boost demand
Industry sources are of the opinion that the setting up of air travel corridors is providing an immediate boost to charter activity on those routes. “Charter demand for the UK to Portugal has spiked tremendously since Portugal was included on the UK’s ‘green list’ on May 17,” said Hewson.
Aviation industry participants are also seeing record activity between CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) and UAE. “For the coming months, it is really encouraging to see the UAE achieving more safe travel corridors, ready for summer leisure trips,” said Hewson. “We are seeing a lot of interest in Greece, in particular."
Earlier this month, UAE and Greece established a safe travel corridor for those fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The two countries have also agreed to mutual recognition of vaccination certificates issued by the respective health authorities.
“Our industry eagerly awaits demand to recover for Western Europe and the UK because these longer charter sectors are generally more profitable than regional hops,” said Hewson.