The year that was 2020 disrupted the world in a great many ways, and the travel industry was no exception. Widespread data about new perils within the commercial airline industry are easily supported reports that many people are opting out of recreational travel until further notice. However, private jet sales, in particular, saw growth last year.
As reported by Barron’s, the number of individuals and businesses inquiring about purchasing their first private aircraft at the end of last year doubled. Florida-based Private Jet Company also saw a fifty percent increase in repeat buyers during the fourth quarter of 2020.
In a statement released mid-February 2021, CEO of the Private Jet Company, Daniel Jennings, said, “High-net-worth individuals with multiple homes continue to contact us because they’re no longer willing to fly in first-class on commercial carriers due to Covid concerns and the deep cuts in the frequency of commercial service.”
First-Time Aircraft Owners are Contributing to Demand
The latter half of 2020 also showed an increase in demand for pre-owned private aircraft. According to executives at Credit Suisse Groupe AG, first-time buyers were a significant contributor to that demand. An article in Bloomberg explains that first-time private aircraft buyers often look at lower price points, which often means previously used.
But a switch from commercial to private air travel to avoid crowds is not the only cause for the shift. Journalist Thomas Black noted that international travel restrictions made larger jets that can cross oceans less necessary. If fewer people are allowed across a highly regulated border, then smaller planes are sufficient for moving around the globe.
An Increased Need for Privacy When Traveling
There are also indicators that those purchasers of private jets are looking for increased privacy and discretion. PrivateFly, a charter jet booking service, announced in February that almost 20% of its yearly revenues are now coming from travelers paying with bitcoin. Digital currencies such as bitcoin are increasingly popular among wealthy individuals, as many perceive it as a store of wealth comparable to gold. Cryptocurrencies cannot be counterfeited and can be traded with complete anonymity if desired.
Based in the US and Europe, PrivateFly is one of the only major companies to accept digital currency for travel bookings, a practice that is so far met with resistance from standard commercial airlines. Japanese carrier Peach Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, and airBaltic are three commercial airlines that currently accept bitcoin payments according to Simple Flying.
Is Sustainable Air Travel the Future?
The private aviation industry is looking to keep up the momentum by appealing to environmentally conscious buyers, as well. In Q3 2020, VistaJet introduced a new partnership with SkyNRG, an innovator in sustainable aviation fuel. SkyNRG’s product SAF is touted to reduce carbon emissions by up to 85 percent. The hope is that as nations around the world increasingly regulate carbon emissions, a low emission aircraft will seem like a safer investment.
So far, it appears the private aviation industry is serious about finding a green solution to air travel. The National Business Aviation Authority previously set the goal of achieving carbon-neutral growth in international emissions by 2020. While that year has come and gone, as early as 2014, manufacturers succeeded in engineering private aircraft that run on biofuels.
As we move deeper into 2021, interest in private air travel continues to grow. While recent months have taught us that it’s hard to predict the future in a rapidly changing global marketplace, the positive signals remain strong. Whether safety, privacy, or ecology sits at the top of your priority list, there are many reasons to stay confident that private jet sales will rise even further.