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Aviation Blog

NetJets, Jet Edge surge during Covid-19 – Columbus Business First – Columbus Business First

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The commercial airline industry may have had a rough 2020, but private jet companies are surging.
While private aviation companies are still feeling some impact from the pandemic, they’re strongly outpacing the rest of the industry.
Columbus-based NetJets, which bills itself as the industry’s largest private aviation company with more than 750 aircraft, says it is operating consistently at 85% of typical flight demand.
The demand is “an indication that our owners are confident in NetJets’ ability to get them safely to their destination,” according to a statement from the firm.
Demand for public air service has not been nearly as strong.
Even during the holiday season, the Transportation Security Administration checked in less than half the volume of passengers it did in 2019, according to NBC News. In Columbus, passenger volume in 2020 reached just 39% of 2019 levels.
Another private aviation firm with a large presence in Columbus, Jet Edge, agrees that demand has continued to be strong during the pandemic.
Robert Austin, Jet Edge’s director of fleet operations, predicted a “very good year” for private aviation in 2021, even as he said the industry is not “immune” from the realities of Covid-19.
Jet Edge reported a 300% increase in new fliers for private aviation since the pandemic started, and plans to hire an additional 100 people in Columbus over the next 24 to 36 months to keep up with demand.
Overall, the entire sector has seen a quick recovery, thanks in part to lower prices and an influx of wealthy people trying to avoid airports during the pandemic.
Leisure travel in particular is now more popular than ever among private jet clientele. Leisure now constitutes 80% of NetJets’ business, compared to 60% before the pandemic.
“Leisure flying has eclipsed its pre-pandemic levels thanks to new entrants who were previously flying commercial or with competitors, but have come to realize that the ultimate luxury is peace of mind,” according to the statement from NetJets.
Jet Edge’s Austin said the firm has seen “a lot of home to home travel, resort to resort travel, and one-way travel.”
There have been some reductions, however. Business travel on private jets continues to be down as companies continue have employees work from home, NetJets said.
“We expect to see an eventual rebound in business travel based on the conversations that we are having with our existing business clients, who tell us that they expect to do more flying with NetJets once restrictions are lifted,” according to the firm.
There’s also been a big dip in travel associated with big in-person events, since many of those have been canceled or significantly scaled back, Austin said.
“We would have had 15 to 20 airplanes at the Super Bowl,” Austin said. “I think we had two (this year).”
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