Private jet anger grows as record number of travelers strain system
Private jet travelers face delays, cancellations and a shortage of available flights as the industry struggles to deliver record numbers of new travelers while dealing with supply chain issues. ..
According to Argus International, July was the busiest month for private jets to date, with more than 300,000 flights. Activity generally cools down in the fall, but with nearly 300,000 flights in September, Project Argus breaks July’s record at October’s pace.
The influx of new private jet customers caused by health concerns during a pandemic and rapid wealth creation are now straining the industry as it slows growth. According to industry executives, the number of delays and cancellations is increasing due to a combination of shortages of new and used aircraft, delays in obtaining aircraft parts, shortages of crew and pilots, catering products and air traffic problems.
Customers who paid 5 or 6 figures for their dream flight learn that even private jets face delays and logistical challenges.
“These are the people who spent $ 200,000 and want perfection,” said Doug Golan, founder of Private Jet Card Comparison, a website that reviews jet card programs.
A comparative study of the private jet cards of private jet travelers found that more than 20% have experienced service issues in the past few months.
The shortage spreads throughout the system
Industry executives say the main problem is the shortage of planes. People who own private jets and typically charter them for charter use their planes more often on their own, and there are fewer of them in the charter market.
Fractional owners are also using their planes more. Supply shortages have spread throughout the civil aviation system, from charter companies and aircraft management companies to brokers and operators. Used aircraft inventories are the lowest on record, and General Dynamics’ private jet makers Bombardier, Textron and Gulfstream are all ramping up production to meet demand.
There is also a shortage of pilots. Many pilots retired or recalled during the Covid-19 pandemic. Companies and private jet owners struggle to find pilots as commercial airlines are actively hiring. Finding cabin crew is also becoming difficult and expensive.
Shortages and delays also negatively impact the availability of aircraft parts. This means that repairs, which are expected to take a day or two, are currently taking more than a week and more planes are no longer in circulation.
WheelsUp, which started operating as a state-owned company this summer, has launched a new pilot employee equity grant to attract and retain more pilots. The program offers equity to full-time and part-time pilots on the senior roster as of August 31, and is open to new pilots hired after September 1.
Even catering is a source of customer complaints. Passengers on private jets typically call for catering orders 1 to 2 days before the flight. But a lot of new flyers call it the day before. This has created a mad rush for caterers trying to source and prepare the food their customers demand and to line up the right wines and spirits.
“Suppose you have a customer who ordered Belvedere vodka and the caterer couldn’t get that Gray Goose,” Golan said. “So the customer got on the plane and noticed he was paying for all of this and said, ‘Why didn’t I buy my Belvedere vodka? “
Abandon new business
Due to the chain of problems, some companies have stopped selling and new customers. Sentient Jet has said it wants to focus on its existing customers and stopped selling jet cards at midnight on September 30.
NetJets has stopped selling jet cards, split inventory, and rentals of light cabin aircraft such as the Citation XLS and Phenom 300. Demand for flights is highest in 57 years, according to company , with an average of 500 flights per day against less than 400. In 2019.
“A lot of flights are straining the air transport infrastructure in ways we have not seen in recent years,” the company said. By suspending the sale of LightJet, along with other restrictions on cardholders, “the company can continue to prioritize what matters most and provide all owners with the best possible experience. “.
Concerns about rising costs and falling margins are putting pressure on some private jet operators and companies. The Wheels Up share price has fallen more than 40% since its peak in July, in part due to analyst concerns about margins.
“We are in a unique position to serve our members and customers in our current environment, utilizing fleets of aircraft owned, operational, managed and third party partners,” said Wheels Up.
The big question is whether the more than 10,000 customers who started flying privately during a pandemic will remain stranded if the problem continues to worsen. Customers can complain about service issues, Golan said, but none of the 300 companies surveyed announced plans to switch back to commercial airlines.
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