The passenger airline crisis is serving-up multiple opportunities for private aviation, says Fly Elite Jets
- Private jet demand is up 70%
- Registration services for private jets and helicopters is buoyant
The Covid induced crisis in commercial passenger aviation is transforming both passenger and freight airliner ownership patterns, as stored passenger airliners are reluctantly sold-on to avoid high leasing costs, says Christopher Williams-Martin, CEO of FlyEliteJets.
As a result, significant new growth opportunities are now emerging in the private aviation sector: high net worth and ultra-high net worth Middle and Far Eastern cash buyers now swoop in to buy up idle passenger planes, then convert these to freight use. The demand for aviation freight has never been stronger, says FlyEliteJets, making airline freight an attractive and growing market.
Change on this scale has also led to business booming in related markets, such as the private aeroplane and helicopter registration sector, reports ZEDRA, a specialist in this area.
Andrew Wilson, head of marine and aviation at ZEDRA, who advise on ownership and taxation structures for private jets, notes substantial interest in the market for private jets over the last year. “At the start of lockdown in March 2020, we saw all sectors slow dramatically, as it was not clear at that time how the new market reality would look. Now twelve months on, it is clear that commercial passenger aviation is likely to remain subdued for some time, even with the vaccine programme rolling out successfully in the UK, but demand for private jet ownership has soared.4
“In particular, we are seeing increasing enquiries around new ownership structures, as leasing companies move assets, i.e. aircraft, away from commercial airlines into the hands of high net worth and ultra-high net worth private clients. These groups may be buying distressed assets or repurposing an asset. Either way, we have seen a sustained increase in the level of enquiries and new business around the registration of private jets, the demand for advice on how best to hold this asset and of course jurisdictional registration questions.
Demand for traditional private jet ownership is also soaring, notes both ZEDRA and FlyEliteJets, as business leaders look to adapt to the new reality of border controls and enforced quarantines by shifting international business meetings onto a day return basis. At the same time, private helicopter ownership and usage is booming, as CEOs fly directly point to point for meetings, avoiding contact with the wider public.
Aircraft are now rarely on the ground, with demand up by 70% since the third quarter of 2020, as business owners and VIP travel starts in earnest.
FlyEliteJets explained that its helicopter passengers now benefit from enhanced safety with perspex screens dividing pilots from passengers and dual air supply for the cockpit and VIP cabin. FlyEliteJets private jets and helicopters undergo intensive sanitisation before and after every flight to safeguard clients.