The potential for air travel chaos is pushing some travelers, at least the most well-heeled ones, away from commercial airlines and toward private flying.
David Zipkin, co-founder of Tradewind Aviation, a private aviation company that works with hotels and tour operators, said that while existing clients and longtime private flyers account for about 60% of its business, the remainder are new to private.
Air disruptions are causing havoc for cruise and tour clients this summer. Travel advisors are working overtime to assist them.
“This group is much larger than pre-pandemic, driven in large part by the current failings of the traditional airline environment,” he said.
Industry trackers have found that private jet use has surged since the pandemic: In May alone, usage in North America was 15.8% above May 2019, said Travis Kuhn, senior vice president of market intelligence for the private jet industry data tracker Argus.
Tour operators that offer private jet tours are also seeing an impact.
Abercrombie & Kent expanded its Wings Over the World private jet journeys this year, adding new destinations in the U.S., Australia, East Africa and Italy, saying it’s seen an uptick in bookings “due to the ease of travel by private air and the bucket-list destinations that are featured,” said Stefanie Schmudde, A&K’s vice president of product development and operations.
“Flying direct from each destination to the next eliminates the extra time and layovers required to transit through a country’s major airport,” she said.
RoadRunAir, a new private air tour operator, is also seeing more interest from typical commercial flyers, especially from travel agencies and operators booking groups.
“Especially with all of the flight challenges nowadays, we have seen an increase in ,” said Leyla Allahverdiyeva, RoadRunAir’s chief sales and marketing officer. “People are extremely interested in the entire idea of affordable, all-inclusive, private jet tours.”
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