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A healthy outlook

Posted 28 September 2020 · Add Comment

Business aviation is beginning to recover from the carnage caused by Covid-19.

Image courtesy FAI

Green shoots, optimism, opportunities… there seems to be something for everyone to strive for in the aftermath of Covid-19. Dave Calderwood reports.

Just look at statements made recently by key members of the business aviation community. 

The Argus Group said: “May 2020 recorded an 84% increase in activity from April in North America, which means we have already made up one-third of our losses from Covid-19 and June is looking just as strong.

“We live in a global, connected, world and business aviation will be vital to our recovery. As we face down this new, unforeseen, challenge our industry will rise to the occasion and it will play a key role.”

London, UK broker, Colibri Aircraft, added: “There are as many as 680 fewer person-to-person touch points flying privately when compared to commercial flights, potentially reducing the chances of catching Covid-19. Price disparity between first class flight tickets and flying privately is set to fall as commercial airlines will be under pressure to increase the cost of flying per passenger as they reduce their load factors to help with social distancing.

“With their duty of care to staff, more corporates will be inclined to offer their senior executives, who fly first class, the option of flying privately.”

Mohammed Al Husary, CEO of UAS, chipped in: “Though the world economy is now poorer than it has been for decades and headed toward a deep depression, there will still be business opportunities, executives will still need to travel and will opt more for business jets and the connectivity and freedom chartering aircraft brings.”

Adel Mardini, founder and CEO of Jetex, which has its HQ in Dubai and bases around the world, was even more optimistic.

“I see a big opportunity for us,” he said. “The issue is not with commercial airlines, it is the fact that people have concerns about big terminals packed with lots of people and where they are mixing with thousands of others.

“We believe that people will come to us, not because they want to fly a private jet, but because they want to use a private terminal.”

Backing this up, Mardini cites business increasing as soon as travel restrictions were eased. Flights from Rome, Italy, for instance, were booked immediately it became possible in June.

Then there are the plethora of online platforms for booking flights, which have seen many more people, especially younger business travellers, take advantage of lower cost flights.

Mardini also expects shake-ups among operators and fixed-base operations (FBOs), and is preparing to take advantage of any opportunities that fit in with Jetex’s plan.

“I expect a few businesses will be reshaped after this crisis,” he said. “We are hungry to acquire individual FBOs and we can see them wanting to be secure under a big umbrella.”

DC Aviation introduced a programme of rapid Covid-19 pre-flight virus testing for all crew and flight support personnel. The measure was introduced to ensure that passengers have the knowledge that they can travel safely with DC Aviation. However, with travel restrictions and requirements changing on a weekly basis, DC Aviation has taken the strategy a step further by adding rapid testing for all flights, in any country, at any time. This means that no matter where the aircraft and crew are, and how many stops are made, the passengers are secure in the knowledge that they are flying with zero risk of exposure to the virus.

Michael Kuhn, CEO of DC Aviation, said: "When we launched the rapid testing programme we were very pleased at the response from passengers, however as passenger numbers have increased, the demand for flights to and from a greater variety of countries has also risen. This has meant that we have had to deal with a larger and more varied number of restrictions and regulations. Therefore, we have introduced the rapid testing programme for any flight, from any departure point. The health and safety of our passengers and crew is of paramount importance and in order to maintain our standards we further refined the testing programme to ensure it is available for every flight .Yet again DC Aviation is proud to deliver the highest safety standards for our passengers and crews".

FAI is the world’s largest fixed-wing air ambulance jet operator by revenue, logging far above 10,000 hours per year. It has been operating at maximum capacity, averaging around six missions per day with its 10-strong fleet of five Learjet 60s, four Bombardier Challenger 604s, and one Global Express air ambulance aircraft. Additionally, FAI is supplementing its fleet with its executive charter fleet of business jets.

The business is there and growing. Operators need to seize the moment.


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