The business jet sector was one of the first in the aviation industry to rebound as airline passenger services ground to a halt. Frequent business travelers also consider private jets a safer mode of transportation.
Although demand this year has exceeded the highs seen in 2020 and 2021, Royaljet plans to add more aircraft as part of its post-COVID-19 strategy. “We’ve taken on more aircraft under management in the past year than we’ve ever had before,” the CEO said. “We expect to have at least two additional aircraft in the fleet this year, which will bring us to 16 aircraft. COVID-19.”
The head of Royaljet sees big opportunities in the market as airlines are still restoring full frequencies on certain routes. “It takes longer to come back and planes with First and Business class are not yet available in most parts of the world,” DiCastri said. “Private aviation clings to these customers”
Dubai, which opened to visitors as early as July 2020, has quickly become a tourist hotspot as most countries have imposed strict travel and lockdowns at home. Private jet movements in Dubai South soared 336% in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020. “From the end of 2020 until almost mid-2021, there was a lot of jet traffic private,” he added. “Their numbers exploded compared to historical figures because people really had nowhere to go.”
Charter flights really caught the public eye last year when the United Arab Emirates suspended flights from a handful of countries, including major source markets such as India and Pakistan. Expats quickly regrouped and booked charter planes to circumvent restrictions on normal commercial flights. Royaljet’s exposure to this part of the market is limited given its prestigious customer base and a fleet of mostly smaller aircraft. However, DiCastri agrees that the general trend has pushed more people into private aviation and that this whole new clientele may be here to stay.
“The whole pandemic has created this opportunity, which is basically about giving people a service and an experience that they don’t want to leave,” the executive said.
Royaljet’s main competitors are not other private jet operators, but airlines Emirates and Etihad Airways. “Major airlines have a high-quality first-class and business-class product – you don’t find that in the rest of the world,” DiCastri said. He said a passenger in the United States – the largest aviation market in the world – should opt for a small plane and choose another airport to enjoy the same kind of services as UAE airlines.
DiCastri agreed that the UK’s recent decision to remove all travel restrictions had affected demand for its planes. “Historically we do a lot of travel to the UK and that has picked up over the last six months for sure.
Switzerland, Morocco, the Seychelles and the Maldives are among the most popular destinations for travelers. “It’s scattered because it comes down to individual choice,” DiCastri said.