Since the first weeks in March, when the number of flights worldwide plummeted, the recovery for the private aviation industry has been bumpy. Some of the largest markets, such as the United States, are still hovering around 60 per cent of their flight activity in 2019. Conversely, the markets with the strongest recovery for the private jet industry may surprise you.
The good news is that the United Arab Emirates is among the strongest.
UAE recovery is strong
According to data on departures, only eight countries made gains in July compared to July 2019. Among them, the UAE saw a 19 per cent increase in activity compared to last year. The UAE is also on the list of countries to have made the biggest gain in activity this year from June to July with a 45 per cent jump in activity.
Some of the biggest markets, the United States for instance, are only seeing marginal growth. The country recorded a 21 per cent decline in July and August flights are tracking 19 per cent year-on-year levels.
What is driving the faster recovery in countries such as the UAE?
Consumer habits are changing
With commercial flight options limited and crowded airports seen as a risk, private jet travel is no longer viewed as a luxury, but rather as a necessity. “Passengers want to limit their exposure to crowds. They want more peace of mind when they travel,” said Adel Mardini, Founder and CEO of Jetex, a global private aviation company based in Dubai.
Only a small portion of the new demand in the industry is coming from corporate travel, which is still slow as business conferences are cancelled, and meetings have been moved online. The surge is mostly coming from leisure travellers, from friends and families who, right now, don’t see commercial travel an option.
Prior to the pandemic, McKinsey reported that only 10 per cent of those who can afford to fly privately were doing so. Now we are seeing more of those passengers switch from first and business class to private aviation.
In this new era of air travel, Jetex is happy to be part of the solution. The company has helped relocate families who needed to get home. It reunited a mother who had been separated from her daughter when countries began to close.
As the world and travel industry recover from the crisis, people are still, albeit cautiously, going on holiday. Among the most popular destinations for leisure passengers flying through the Jetex VIP terminal in Dubai are Turkey, Greece, and the Maldives. There are still many travel opportunities for families in the Gulf region.
Government support is paramount
Jetex attributes the UAE’s success to the support the government has shown the industry. In Dubai, the company has the ability to test passengers for COVID-19 as they come through the private terminal, making their travel experience as easy and seamless as possible.
Although countries are beginning to open their borders, more travellers are avoiding commercial airlines by booking private jets to reduce the chance of them catching coronavirus. This trend will continue over the coming months as the UAE is now approaching high season as more travellers experience the benefits of private terminals and convenience of flying private, regardless of the destination.
“I have a positive outlook towards the future of the industry as I believe that private aviation will be amongst the first to bounce back and witness remarkable growth in the next three to five years,” says Mardini.
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