The outbreak of COVID-19 has significantly increased demand for private aircraft on every continent. For both business and personal users of private aviation, the availability of aircraft, crew, and airspace will impact decisions until this crisis abates. In our effort to ensure our community can continue to render fully informed decisions, we present some facts and discuss the dynamics currently at work within the private aviation ecosystem.
Traffic within the Continental United States has increased 110% year-over-year. While 2019 represented a high watermark for private aviation (3,200 US Domestic trip requests in Week 11 of the 52-week calendar), the past ten days have seen almost double the number of flight requests (7,000 requests in the same period). Schedulers, dispatchers, and Client Service teams are swamped with new requests, itinerary changes, and cancellations.
This compression is entirely attributable to the outbreak of COVID-19 forcing all sorts of customers into the private aviation market for the first time. International flying has all but stopped as of this writing. Whereas the PJS team is still working to perform repatriation flights, the number of countries with closed borders has made future flying all but impossible. Our inability to overnight and rest crews overseas requires overnights enroute and complex operations routed via the few remaining open border countries.
In addition to the supply/demand dynamics, domestic trip requests are coming in earlier than they have in the past. Customers are booking flights further in advance to ensure availability. This dynamic began emerging in the first week of March, with the COVID-19 outbreak and has expanded since with reservations surging earlier than historical norms. We see this booking dynamic subsiding along with demand in early Q2, but anticipate a rebound in late Q2 with the ‘re-start’ of business operations.
Whereas early bookings have always landed the best aircraft and pricing, PJS strongly recommends clients work to identify their itineraries well in advance and secure reservations to stay in front of the bow wave. Private aviation is one of the very few industries experiencing a demand surge as new customers enter the market and fewer aircraft are available.
In an effort to ensure we can service the businesses and families who rely on PJS, we are staging and pre-positioning resources to respond to these needs. We know that we do not know what will happen, so we are planning as best we can to remain nimble and poised for action.
In these times of uncertainty, we recommend a conservative and safe approach. As the situation becomes more clear for travel and private aviation, we will continue to provide updates to our community.