As lockdowns from the coronavirus pandemic begin lifting in some parts of the world, business travel is returning as well. However, with safety concerns over commercial travel still an issue, private jet company Vista Global is seeing its own resurgence.
"Ever since the last week of April we've seen significant demand rising," said founder and chairman Thomas Flohr. "The number of new membership sales at our XO brand, for example, is up three times over last year."
People who can afford it and have the need to fly are turning to the private market, according to Flohr. He noted that the advantages of private flights include the ability to change plans on short notice, control over the number and makeup of passengers, and the option to limit services to reduce personal interactions with the crew.
"The touchpoints on a private jet is approximately 20 touchpoints, whereas, in a commercial environment, it's more than 700," Flohr stated, in regards to plane hygiene. "So that's the kind of safety net that we're providing."
Additionally, the crews on a Vista flight are tested twice daily with temperature checks administered onboard, he explained. Passengers also are required to provide a travel history, while the conditions on the ground of a flight's origination and destination are checked by the crew and operations teams to maximize safety.
"You have rules which are changing literally daily, could be hourly, and our operations teams are working around the clock, 24/7, to make sure that our clients are traveling safely, and for sure, to their destination," he said.
"Think of the consumer as caught between fear and desire. Obviously the fear of being caught with a pandemic, but at the same time there is a strong need to travel and business aviation really fills that gap to restart the economy," Flohr explained. "Because when you see a business jet in a remote location it means business is being conducted in that location."
Flohr projected a gradual recovery for business in the next two quarters heading into 2021, but suspects corporations won't be looking to acquire expensive private jets for themselves.
"It's the asset-light solution that Vista offers, which is the attractiveness, which draws the consumer to us," he said.