The environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic has shed a light on every aspect of our lives and caused us to adjust to a “new normal.” The impact to travel, like other business sectors, has been substantial: Airlines are operating at an all-time demand shortfall versus the prior year, and several carriers’ future may be in question.
The business aviation sector can be a viable alternative for some. With safety concerns becoming a greater part of the travel experience, avoiding commercial airports is now a real decision influencer when people consider air travel. Since the US onset of COVID-19 in March, the business aviation sector has been able to attract new interest and inquiries, but the “take rate” is still limited to the pre-pandemic audience. HNWIs (high-net-worth individuals), corporations and anyone else who places a high value on their time understands that value is realized through the efficiencies and time savings that business aviation provides. Why is this important? For the vast majority of business and leisure travelers, the price of flying private is still a hurdle that most cannot afford, and the clientele for sustainable travel via private operators remains much the same as it has for the past several decades.
Now is the time—and a rare opportunity—to expand the audience who opts to fly private. To make it legitimately possible instead of strictly aspirational for more people to choose private aviation, several initiatives are currently underway across the industry. For example, at Manifest, a new travel club that I recently launched, we’ve incorporated the shared economy philosophy along with a model that regionalizes our trips. By combining these factors, we have been able to achieve as much as a 30% reduction in “typical” costs for private aviation. We can pass along savings to our members or, just as importantly, expand the market for business aviation.
This is just one example of some of the new thinking that is becoming standard in business aviation. The majority of experienced operators (like Silver Air) are wise to continue to explore avenues not only to serve existing customers, but also to evolve the market from a thing of dreams to a reality.
By Jeff S. Potter Founder and CEO at Manifest Escapes