DUBAI: Long overlooked by business class travelers as the ultimate luxury, private jet bookings have reached new heights during the pandemic when commercial travel has been curtailed. Those with critical travel needs had no choice but to turn to private aviation to fill the void.
“This has led to a sudden and massive influx of business travelers traveling privately for the first time,” said Thomas Flohr, founder and chairman of Dubai-based Vista Global Holding, a portfolio of private aviation companies. , including VistaJet, the first and only in the world. business aviation company.
Worldwide, 3.3 million private flights were operational in 2021, up 7% from pre-COVID figures, according to WingX, a Germany-based business aviation intelligence firm.
The pandemic has allowed private aviation companies like VistaJet to show new customers that private flying can be a financially viable long-term travel solution.
“Overall, private aviation has been well insulated over the past two years,” Flohr said. “In the end, the pandemic has shown that it does not necessarily cost more. As a result, we have seen a significant increase in new business memberships due to organizations recognizing the many safety, security and accessibility benefits we offer. »
As of mid-2021, up to 71% of VistaJet’s new inquiries came from passengers who had not regularly used business aviation solutions in the past.
“It shows how much people appreciate the ease, safety and accessibility of private aviation,” he said. “While the pandemic has certainly provided the catalyst for change and redefined the global aviation landscape, the industry could respond quickly and effectively to the shift that has helped create a permanent shift in perception towards private travel.”
Changing dynamics of private aviation
Overall, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Middle East have been among VistaJet’s largest markets over the past two years. While the UAE has always been one of the company’s top destinations, Saudi Arabia has shown robust growth, particularly over the past six months, with “travel at the highest pace we’ve ever seen.” have ever seen”, according to Flohr.
He attributed the increase in travel to domestic demand within the GCC. Yet the company has also seen an increase in long-distance travel from the Kingdom and the Middle East as a whole, mainly to and from the United States, followed by Europe.
In turn, these long-haul flights are driving demand for VistaJet’s longer-range aircraft, with demands for its expanding Bombardier Global 7500 fleet being among the highest in the world.
“Travel to Saudi Arabia has also increased, particularly in April when VistaJet saw many flights entering Jeddah for Umrah,” Flohr said.
The evolution of private travel habits does not stop there. VistaJet members request longer trips to reach more distant destinations around the world. Moreover, many of them choose to embark on great adventures and distant expeditions – in search of new exciting and memorable moments.
Recent nonstop trips include St Maarten to Seychelles (14 hours, 45 minutes), Honolulu to Helsinki (13 hours, 30 minutes) and Liege to Jakarta (13 hours, 30 minutes) thanks to the fleet of 10 new Global 7500 jets from VistaJet with a range of 7,700 nautical miles.
It is the largest, fastest and longest aircraft in business aviation, opening up a new world of long-haul private flight.
“We are also pleased to see the growing focus on sustainability in the decision-making process, with 85% of VistaJet members choosing to offset their fuel burn emissions by investing in carbon credits. certified worldwide,” he added.
Although Vista is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, the President’s vision is to create a global private aviation ecosystem.
The recent acquisition of Jet Edge, the fastest growing North American charter operator, and Air Hamburg, Europe’s leading charter operator, earlier in the year served this ambition.
With these acquisitions, VistaJet is actively expanding its fleet at a time of unprecedented demand and uniting two well-known, long-established companies under its umbrella.
This is the latest step in Vista’s transformation of the highly fragmented business aviation ecosystem. It builds on the successful integrations of Apollo Jets, Talon Air and Red Wing Aviation into the brand.
“After the completion of the two transactions, this will bring the Vista Group’s combined global fleet to more than 350 aircraft, including owned and managed, and we expect an increase of approximately 30% in worldwide flight hours,” said Flohr. “In addition, we are also thrilled to welcome over 1,000 new highly skilled colleagues to the Vista family of experts.”
VistaJet currently flies to 96% of the globe, basically anywhere in the world you can land a plane. They are therefore already present in all markets.
“However, in terms of growth opportunities, there is still huge potential here in the Middle East,” he said. “I founded VistaJet in 2004 to simplify private flying. We introduced a whole new way to fly, with access to an entire global branded fleet, paying only for the hours flown, with guaranteed availability and no asset risk.
The opportunity is there to see, and the demand clearly exceeds the supply. It will be interesting to know how long the trend will last and how VistaJet will conduct its business in the years to come.