PRIVATE JET CHARTER SET TO FLY AGAIN?

  • Market witnesses a 6.35 percent increase in overall European private jet flights year-on-year for July.
  • A jump in private jet lead times highlights increased forward planning and growing customer confidence.
  • Record results for PrivateFly.com; a 200% increase in online private jet bookings for the first half of 2010.

With the global travel industry slowly recovering from recession, many would expect private jet travel to be one of the last sectors to bounce back. But online private jet booking network, PrivateFly.com, is cautiously optimistic. The company has released combined data, which - together - indicates returning customer confidence in the ''pay as you go'' private jet charter segment.

While private aviation in Europe was growing rapidly, at 12 percent year-on-year in 2006/7, this trajectory was stopped in its tracks by the economic downturn. However European air traffic control figures* showed a +6.35 percent growth in private aviation for July 2010, versus July 2009, suggesting the jet-set are on the move again.

Another indicator of customer confidence is booking lead times. The travel industry - as a whole - saw a clear shift to short-term planning during the downturn. However, latest data from PrivateFly shows a growing trend for forward planning, with the average lead time for bookings between February and July 2010 standing at 12.4 days. This compares to a four-day booking lead time for the period July-December 2009.

Despite severe travel budget cuts, many time-starved business travellers have continued to use private aviation, with the clear efficiency benefits remaining compelling, even in a downturn. Growth in private charter has also been fuelled by increasing demand from leisure travellers who - disillusioned by airport delays, strikes and hassles - are now looking for an alternative.

Increased price competitiveness from private jet operators and wider availability of ''air taxis'' or Very Light Jets has also lowered the entry price point, and for a group travelling together, private charter can now be surprisingly cost-effective per head, comparable with first or business class fares.

PrivateFly.com is also seeing significant growth as a transparent online booking platform for private jet charter, with the business reporting a 200 percent increase in bookings over the first half of 2010. The website provides the online search and price comparison already commonplace in other travel sectors to the traditionally ''offline'' world of private jet travel, bringing price transparency, with increased ease and speed of booking.

Adam Twidell, CEO of PrivateFly, commented: "It''s encouraging to see indications of confidence returning to the private jet charter market. In recovery, flexibility and time-saving will still remain key decision drivers for private jet customers in both the corporate and leisure markets, but there is a much stronger demand for cost-consciousness, and PrivateFly''s online platform means that we are well-positioned to meet these needs."

"Our 'hybrid' business model - based on delivering online transparency with VIP offline expertise from our 24hr operations team - has seen significant growth and demand during the recession, and we are looking forward to embracing the opportunities that come from continued recovery in the private jet charter sector."

-Ends-

Notes to editors:
*EUROCONTROL Air Traffic Control statistics for July 2010