As the commercial airline industry grounds itself and travel restrictions bite in the face of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, the private jet alternative is thriving thanks to the insatiable demands of the wealthy and the well-connected.
According to AFP, the demand from the super rich has never been stronger. Richard Zaher, CEO of a U.S.-based private jet charter company, told the news service emails and phone calls just keep coming.
“Inquiries have gone through the roof,” he told AFP, noting his company Paramount Business Jets had seen a 400 percent increase in queries, with bookings up roughly 20-25 percent.
“It is completely coronavirus,” he added.
“We are seeing our regular private jet clients flying as they normally do. However, we have this surge of clients coming our way and the majority of them have never flown private.”
The reason for the demand is explained by the fact private flyers do not want to be confined with hundreds of people with “unknown” travel histories.
Private passengers also clear customs and immigration separate from crowded main airport terminals, allowing them to move freely whether it be on a holiday trip or heading to a conference in distant places:
Irony Alert: A Thousand Private Jets Deliver Globalist Elite to Davos for Climate Change Summit https://t.co/uWJxkxpVoJ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 24, 2018
A spokeswoman for Air Charter Service in Hong Kong told AFP they had seen a 70 percent increase in fixed bookings from the financial hub, Shanghai, and Beijing in January and February, and had recorded a 170 percent jump in new customers during the same period.
“It is the kind of people who are wealthy enough but who would not necessarily charter, who are maybe chartering as a one-off,” said James Royds-Jones, Air Charter Service’s director of executive jets for Asia Pacific.
One recent booking involved a family moving from Hong Kong to the Thai city of Chiang Mai.
“People are just trying to almost pack their house into a private jet,” he said. “Also relocating, I guess the one good thing about the private jet side of things… you can have your pets with you.”
The Financial Times also records a surge in global bookings for private jet facilities, reporting Hong Kong international airport alone had its busiest day for private jet activity on record this week as wealthy residents of the territory and Chinese citizens rush back to the city before authorities imposed strict quarantine measures on new arrivals.
The airport was close to its maximum capacity of 30 private jets on Wednesday and the Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre added landings and take-offs had reached their highest level.
As Breitbart News reported, private jet sales last year were strong, driven by both corporate and celebrity Hollywood demands:
Rich Actress Emma Thompson Flies 5,400 Miles to Protest Climate Change https://t.co/m6KkjE27C4
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 19, 2019
Industry figures show an estimated 690 new business jets took to the skies in 2019, a nine percent increase on 2018, as businesses and the wealthy refreshed their fleets with new models released by three of the world’s biggest private jet manufacturers.