Private jet rage grows as a record number of fliers strain the system
As the private jet industry faces supply chain problems and a record number fliers, there are increasing delays, cancellations, and a lack of flights.
According to Argus International, July was the busiest month for private plane flights with over 300,000. Although business tends to cool in fall, September was a busy month for private jet flights with nearly 300,000. Argus International projects that October will surpass the July record.
The flood of new private jet customers — driven by health concerns during the pandemic and the rapid creation of wealth — is now taxing an industry geared for slower growth. According to executives in the industry, a shortage of used and new planes, delayed access to parts and crew shortages, caterer snafus, and other problems with air traffic are all contributing to a rise in cancellations and delays.
Many customers who spent thousands of dollars on their dream flight are finding out that private aircraft can experience delays and logistical problems.
Doug Gollan founder of Private Jet Card ComparisonsA website which reviews all types of jet-card programs is.
Private Jet Card Comparisons surveys private jet pilots and found more than 20% of them had encountered a service problem in the last 12 months.
The main problem, according to executives in the industry is a dearth of aircraft. The main problem is the lack of aircraft. Private pilots who use their planes to fly charters are more likely to do so, making it less affordable for others.
Additionally, fractional owners use their planes more. Supply shortages are affecting all aspects of private aviation, including charter and jet-management firms as well as brokers and operators. There is a huge shortage of aircraft for private operators and charter companies. Bombardier Textron General Dynamics’Gulfstream has all increased production in order to meet the demand.
Also, pilots are scarce. Many of the Covid-19 pilots who were dialled back or retired during this period are now in short supply. Private jet owners and commercial airlines have been hiring aggressively, so private aircraft companies are trying to hire pilots. The process of finding cabin crew members is expensive and difficult.
The availability of spare parts is also being affected by delays and shortages. As a result, repairs that used to take just a couple of days now can take up to seven days, leaving more aircraft out of service.
Wheels UpThe company, which began trading in the public market this summer, has just introduced a Pilot Employee Equity Grant. This grant aims to attract and keep more pilots. It will offer equity to all full-time and partial-time pilots that are currently on its seniority lists as of August 31, with new pilots being eligible after September 1.
Customers are complaining about the catering industry. Customers flying in private jets typically place their orders for catering a few days before departure. But many of the new fliers are calling it in the night before, which has created a mad scramble for the caterers trying to source and make the meals — and line up the right wine or spirits — that clients are requesting.
Gollan stated, “Say that you have a customer who ordered Belvedere vodka but the caterer could not only get Grey Goose.” So the customer boards the plane, and is furious that he has to pay so much money. He then asks Gollan why he didn’t get his Belvedere vodka.
A series of difficulties has caused some companies to stop selling and have no new customers. Sentient Jet has stopped selling jet cards since Sept. 30 at midnight, stating that it is focusing on existing customers.
NetJets has halted sales of jet cards, fractional shares and leases for light-cabin aircraft — like the Citation XLS and Phenom 300. NetJets stated that flight demand was at its peak in its 57 year history. They now fly an average of 500 flights per day as compared to just 400 in 2019.
According to the company, “The large number of flights is straining the infrastructure for air travel in ways that we haven’t seen in many years.” Pausing light jet sales, along with other restrictions on card buyers, “allows the company to continue prioritizing what is most important — delivering the best possible experience to all owners.”
Private jet companies and operators are being squeezed by concerns about increasing costs and decreasing margins. The share price of Wheels Up has dropped by 40% from its July peak, partly due to concerns about margins among analysts.
Wheels Up claimed that its fleet of aircraft owned, operated and managed by third parties is uniquely placed to provide service for customers and members in today’s environment.
There is still the big question of whether or not the over 10,000 private-flying customers that flew for the first time in the aftermath of the pandemic will continue flying if they have to. Gollan indicated that, while some customers complain about the service they receive from their airline, no one of its 300 respondents said that they plan to return to commercial carriers.