Many people think that flying by a private jet is reserved for only the very rich, celebrities or sports teams, however, private aviation is a service that can be very advantageous, especially as the entire world is in the midst of the CODIV-19 pandemic. The cost of flying by private aircraft can be very cost-effective for business owners or groups of travelers that place a high value on time and convenience.
Even though private aviation can bypass many of the TSA travel restrictions in place across the U.S., they are still subject to local or national requirements. Several countries are still not allowing any flights or have strict quarantine requirements for travelers entering that country, whether they arrive by commercial airline or private jet.
Although the private aviation industry is generally well positioned to survive and rebound quickly during the coronavirus outbreak, they have not been immune to the recent economic climate.
Unlike large commercial airlines, private aviation is made up primarily of small and midsize companies and their access to cash reserves or other sources of financing or capital is more difficult to acquire. As in all industries, many private aviation companies are actively seeking to secure funding from state and federal authorities.
Some parts of the industry initially saw declines of 40% due to complete shutdowns in some of the largest state economies. However, considering commercial aviation saw declines of over 90%, the industry was able to absorb the initial decrease and is seeing a strong renewed surge in interest for private aircraft.
The main motivation currently for travelers to use private aircraft is to reduce the risks of exposure to the COVID-19 virus by avoiding the large crowds in the airports and overcrowded flights. Private aviation does not require access to commercial aviation terminals, so passengers can avoid the crowded security lines and gate seating that may increase their exposure risk. It is likely that reasoning will carry on even after the COVID-19 crisis is over.
There is expected to be a steady and long-term increase in the use of private aircraft as the United States and other international countries begin to open up their borders and travelers research the various options available to them to travel in the safest and secure way.
COVID-19 Flight Precautions
As service continues for private aircraft during the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has implemented a number of health and safety measures for flights to mitigate the risks of becoming infected such as:
Social Distancing of Passengers and Crew – Private flights will maintain minimal or no close interactions between, passengers, crew or other airport personnel.
Cabin Cleaning – Private jet operators are required to perform a deep disinfecting of aircraft passenger cabins and cockpits between flights. This could include hand sanitizing or the use of whole cabin misting disinfectant systems.
Boarding Safety Procedures – Some operators may require temperature checks of passengers before boarding or may require masks to be worn during the boarding process.
Reduced Ramp/FBO Access – Most FBO’s or other facilities may be off-limits to passengers except for essential services.
Private Aircraft Safety
Due to recent technical advances and numerous safety features and regulations implemented for all aircraft, flying is generally the safest form of transportation in the U.S. and the accident rate for both private and commercial aviation has been improving every year.
Statistically, flying commercially is safer than flying general aviation aircraft, which includes private and charter flights. Although recent headlines have documented the international aircraft accidents due to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, it has been since 2009 that the U.S. has had its last multi-fatality commercial flight accident.
Private aircraft do offer other safety advantages in emergency situations, however. As they are smaller, they are capable of landing at significantly more airports than commercial aircraft and they can change flight plans much more readily to avoid bad weather or heavy turbulence.
Private Airline Pricing
The cost to rent a private jet is typically a per-hour fee and the prices differ depending on the aircraft’s seating capacities and flight-time limitations. Most prices range from a few thousand dollars per hour for smaller jets to nearly $10,000 per hour for larger jets. The per-person cost to travel in a private jet, even at full capacity, is often more than traveling first-class on a commercial airline, however, flying by private jet has a number of advantages that commercial airlines cannot offer.
Private Airline Advantages
Although the actual flight may cost more in a private jet than a commercial flight, there are no extra charges for checking luggage, using Wi-Fi, watching a movie or in-flight dining or beverages.
Most commercial flights fly between 5 am and 8 pm local time, so looking to arrive early in the day or leaving later at night usually means an overnight stay. With the ability to schedule flights at any time of the day or night, arrivals can be made for early morning meetings or set to leave later in the evening and avoid additional hotel fees.
On shorter flights, a private jet can arrive at the destination before a commercial flight even leaves the ground. For a commercial flight, it can take several hours to check bags, get through the security lines and wait at the gate for boarding to begin. With a private flight, boarding happens right at the aircraft. Just show identification and bring your luggage on the aircraft.
Private aircraft have access to nearly 5,000 different airports and airstrips across the U.S, ten times more than the commercial airlines. For passengers that are not located in larger metropolitan areas, a private flight could save hours just driving to a suitable airport for a commercial flight.
Private aviation strives to create a VIP experience for the traveler. Private aircraft offer many individualized amenities such as specific requests for meals, beverages and entertainment. Flying together with a number of coworkers, family members or friends creates a more friendly environment, instead of traveling with a plane full of strangers. In many ways, the convenience and privacy of traveling in a private jet considerably offsets the lower priced fares of commercial airlines.
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