Summer 2020

Offering a safe haven in the skies, the private aviation market is rising to new heights.

Bombardier Challenger 350. Courtesy Sandro Koster

Soaring through the sky on a private flight has often spelled comfort, convenience, and ease. Over the last twelve months, it has also provided another more critical offer: health and safety. As a result, the market for private aviation is prospering.

During a year that witnessed a 55% plunge in commercial travel, the air charter services market grew 4.52%, from $26.6 billion in 2019 to $27.8 billion in 2020, according to a market report by business research firm Technavio. Market growth is expected to continually increase over the next three years, reaching a market value of $33 billion, at a CAGR of 5%.

Despite a 55% plunge in commercial travel, the air charter services market grew 4.52%, from $26.6B in 2019 to $27.8B in 2020.

Air Charter Services, Market Analysis, Technavio

Boeing Business Jets (BBJ). Courtesy Sandro Koster

Likewise, rates of new travelers taking to private aviation more than tripled last year, marked by a 320% increase in inquiries for new memberships with top private charter services since July 2020.

In a pandemic world, the primary reason for this growth is intuitive: private flight is innately more hygienic and thus safer. According to a recent McKinsey analysis, private jets have only 20 to 30 touchpoints of contact with other people and objects, while the average commercial flight risks about 700 points of contact. Private passengers typically encounter a mere 8 people door-to-door, compared to 600 for a standard commercial passenger and 136 for a business class passenger.

Boeing Business Jets (BBJ). Courtesy Boeing

Alexis Fecteau, the Global Director of Marketing at Boeing Business Jets, explains, “while commercial airline staff and private jet staff maintain sanitization as a top priority, and while both meticulously clean cabins between flights, private jets have fewer passengers, which streamlines and simplifies the process.” Private flyers also see this reduced number of passengers they can potentially come into contact with as a benefit to private flying.

Private flights have only 20-30 points of contact with other people and objects. The average commercial flight has about 700.

McKinsey & Company

Conceptual Design. Courtesy Jet Aviation

“Before the pandemic, only 10% of people who could afford to fly private did,” says Matteo Atti, the Executive Vice President of Marketing and Innovation at VistaJet, a global private aviation company. He explains that private airline providers are able to take dramatically better safety precautions, resulting in stable consumer demand even after moments of initial panic subsided. “While standard passengers haven’t all switched over to private, former business class flyers in particular have digressed,” opting instead for private travel, says Atti. Recreational flyers have contributed to the surge as well, many of whom were bound to take strict health precautions yet were especially motivated to travel in the face of lockdowns.

Gulfstream 650. Courtesy Sandro Koster

6 of the top 10 routes with the most growth were between New York and South Florida.

Global 7500. Courtesy VistaJet

According to an analysis of private flights between 2019 and 2020, 5 of the top ten routes with the most year- over-year growth were all between South Florida and New York; from the Hamptons, Westchester or North Jersey to Palm Beach or Boca Raton. The greatest growing route, between Palm Beach International Airport and Westchester County Airport, increased 467% between 2019 and 2020.

“Private aviation is a highly fragmented market, with the top players only accounting for 10% of it.”

Matteo Atti, EVP of Marketing & Innovation, VistaJet

Global 7500. Courtesy VistaJet

Looking optimistically to the future, experts predict the market will consolidate, driven not only by demands for top health safety, but also by accident prevention. Today, about 80% of the market is made up of small charter companies. In Europe particularly, this fragmentation has led to the rise of “gray” charter airlines, or airlines flying passengers out of the scope of government regulators and routine safety inspections.

Global 7500. Courtesy VistaJet

The number of private flights between Palm Beach and Westchester County grew 467% between 2019 and 2020.

Historically, private aviation has had higher per capita accident rate because of this laissez-faire nature of the industry.

As a result, private flyers increasingly are demanding more accountability from private airlines to uphold safety regulations, which larger providers can more reliably guarantee. The consolidation of small charter companies into larger full-service providers, such as VistaJet, will mean less small charter companies flying under the radar, as it were, and therefore safer rides.

“VistaJet saw a 29% increase in new subscription memberships between 2019 and 2020.”

Matteo Atti, EVP of Marketing & Innovation, VistaJet

Global 6500. Courtesy Bombardier

Additionally, as a marketing strategy to ensure that people continue flying private after the pandemic, airlines have built out product offerings in the form of partnerships with related but distinct hospitality vendors that provide door-to-door luxury experiences. According to a study by Barton Consulting and VistaJet surveying luxury hospitality brands, around 80% of businesses believe that an enhanced “ecosystem” of partnerships across the travel sector will improve their resilience. A primary example of this ecosystem is the Four Seasons Private Jet Experience, whose 2022 itinerary will include private ultra-luxury tours across Africa and Southeast Asia.

With a soaring demand for holistic experiences, the demand for end-to-end providers is likewise taking off.

The global air charter service market is expected to surpass $33B by 2024, at a 5% CAGR.

Air Charter Services Market Analysis, Technavio

Four Seasons Private Jet. Courtesy Four Seasons




You have Successfully Subscribed!