“With virtually no business travel, the rebound was fueled by existing customers flying for personal reasons and newcomers to the market,” Mr. Gollan said. “Private flying isn’t fully back, but certainly the industry is in much better shape than airlines. There is a strong flow of new-to-private-aviation customers.”
XO, which offers both private charters and the ability to book individual seats on private jets, saw a 19.8 percent decrease in hours flown in the first half of 2020 versus the first half of 2019, according to Argus data. But the company said monthly membership sales between March and May 2020 among first-time private jet fliers averaged five times higher than their monthly averages.
Two other companies have also seen increased interest. Sentient Jet said more than 50 percent of the 8,000 flight hours in June were sold to first-time customers, up from about 25 to 30 percent in most months. And Air Charter Service said in a press release that in May and June, it saw a 75 percent increase in year-over-year inquiries from potential customers.
The trend looks likely to continue as commercial air travel may only become more painful. JetBlue is blocking middle seats through at least Sept. 8 and Southwest Airlines is doing the same through at least Oct. 31 — but it’s unclear what happens after that. Luxuries like airport lounges are closed with no indication when they’ll reopen. And passengers report flights being canceled at the last minute.
Who is flying private
Ms. Gibson said in addition to families and friends on vacation, she’s recently flown students who needed to return from college or boarding schools and older passengers who feel especially at risk flying commercial airlines. And as airlines cut back on international flights in response to countries closing their borders to some foreigners, including Americans, she’s also flying a number of repatriation trips.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 27, 2020
Should I refinance my mortgage?
- It could be a good idea, because mortgage rates have never been lower. Refinancing requests have pushed mortgage applications to some of the highest levels since 2008, so be prepared to get in line. But defaults are also up, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, be aware that some lenders have tightened their standards.
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
Private jet travel allows citizens of other countries to find a way home. For repatriation flights from the United States to a country where travel is restricted to citizens only, the plane can land, but Ms. Gibson and her crewmates can’t set foot on foreign land. The passenger departs, and the crew immediately leaves the country. It is not advised to use a private jet to skirt entry restrictions — just look at the five American travelers who chartered a private jet to Sardinia, but were turned away upon arrival.
Even dogs are flying on chartered planes. Elsa Chen, a Bernedoodle puppy, was purchased by her owners through a website called PuppySpot. They paid the company’s standard flat rate of $799 to send dogs via air cargo. But when Elsa’s American Airlines flight from Chicago O’Hare to San Francisco was canceled last month and could not be rebooked for several days, PuppySpot rebooked Elsa on a private jet and had her arrive in San Francisco nearly on schedule. As a result, PuppySpot is now flying all of its dogs on private planes.