Bouncing back: why bizav won’t be beaten by COVID-19

27 May 2020

Business aviation is an incredibly resilient industry. So when you ask us how bizav will recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re pleased to say the answers are encouraging.

Is the global market improving yet?

Our head of insights and analytics Harry Clarke says demand is coming back at different rates in different places.

“US domestic travel is looking the most optimistic. In fact, the first week of June had more trip requests by mid-May 2020 than at the same time in 2019.”

The picture in Europe is more complicated, as countries exit severe lockdowns at different times and new quarantine measures are introduced, such as in the UK. Looking at the weeks ahead, Harry says: “Charter demand from the UK and Germany is more resilient than France, Italy or Spain. In terms of arrival destinations, Portugal and Turkey are the most resilient larger markets.”

On a global scale, we should all take confidence. The low point of charter demand is behind us. Better days are ahead!

Will bizav recover from coronavirus faster than commercial airlines?

Absolutely. The health benefits of flying privately right now are beyond dispute. No waiting in line in crowded airport terminals. No pushing past strangers in the aircraft. Austria-based operator GlobeAir says: “Against the approximately 700 touchpoints which expose passengers to the risk of contagion on every single commercial flight, with only 20 touchpoints, business aviation ensures a 30-times lower risk.”

In any practical sense, social distancing is simply impossible on airliners. Media reports of Americans being “petrified” on flights at the moment are easy to believe. One passenger flying into San Francisco this month said: “It was absolutely ridiculous that we were so close to one another.” Michael O’Leary, outspoken boss of European carrier Ryanair, has called the idea of leaving middle seats in aircraft empty for social distancing “idiotic”.

As well as the benefits of healthy travel, are there logistical reasons for hope too?

As different global regions experience coronavirus peaks, troughs and travel restrictions at different times, bizav can be agile in following market demand.

And bizjet operators can be far more creative and flexible than airlines in finding solutions to the problems of coronavirus. You might remember how superbly bizjets responded after the volcanic eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in 2010. Ash caused enormous air travel disruption. Many airlines across western and northern Europe were practically helpless even after airspace reopened, struggling with huge passenger backlogs and repositioning fleets. Bizjets, however, were quickly and dynamically mobilized to bring people home.

When will international business return?

We all want normal life back, whatever ‘normal life’ might be after COVID-19. We’re all desperate to restart the global economy. And, yes, videoconferencing tech such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom can be great in a crisis. But lockdowns have reminded us there’s nothing like a face-to-face meeting. When the international corporate world is ready to shake hands again, business jets will be the first and safest way to make those meetings happen. And we’ll be there when sports events and music festivals return too.

What now?

Keep marketing. When things are tough for everyone, proactive companies that make sure their names stay in front of their clients often enjoy the benefits when the industry recovers.

In the meantime, continue the fantastic humanitarian and medical support you’ve been giving the world.

And long term?

As Kyle Patel, executive and charter director at broker BitLux, says in this interview, people may permanently switch to bizjets after their coronavirus scare. Some passengers will now “forever fly privately because they don’t want to go near a crowded airport or airline again”.

The world needs the many missions business aircraft can fulfill. Stay safe. Be optimistic.

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