How Private Aviation Is Taking Off in 2020

In a year when traditional air travel has been drastically impacted, private aviation continues to grow stronger, safer, and more attractive to a broadening segment of consumers.

Full Speed Ahead

For decades, discerning travelers have lauded private jet travel for its quickness. Over the last several decades, increases in the actual pace of private jet travel, however, have been minimal. In fact, according to research conducted by Aerion Supersonic, the speed of business jets has increased by only 10% in the last half century. Aerion teased private-aviation consumers with the allure of supersonic jet travel when, in 2004, it announced its plan to build a business jet that could fly faster than the speed of sound. The company has remained steadfast in that journey, and recent developments have brought the project a few steps closer to completion.

In July 2020, Aerion announced two new partnerships. The first is with Spirit AeroSystems, a frontrunner in composite aerostructures that will build the forward fuselage of the AS2 Supersonic Business Jet (while also providing additional engineering, production, and certification expertise to the AS2 program). Aerion also partnered with Carbon Engineering Ltd. (CE), a Direct Air Capture company, which will collaborate on ways to power the AS2 with CE’s synthetic fuel. If the latter collaboration proves successful, the AS2 will not only become the world’s first supersonic commercial aircraft but will also shine for being carbon neutral.

The AS2’s first flights are expected in 2025 with full production anticipated for 2030, and Aerion is making necessary strides to stick to that schedule. As proof, the company plans to break ground on Aerion Park, a new manufacturing campus in Florida, later this year.

The Only Way to Travel

In no uncertain terms, 2020 is the year to privately charter a jet. “For flexibility, convenience, and safety, there’s never been a more advantageous time to travel privately,” says Shelley Cline, president of TCS World Travel.

Cline’s company, which specializes in private-jet expeditions, has recently debuted almost a dozen custom-tailored itineraries to captivating destinations throughout North America—allowing, for the first time, their entire planes and excursions to be dedicated to a single group. From 10-day Alaskan wilderness expeditions with overnights at luxuriously appointed remote lodges to 13 days spent island hopping throughout Hawaii, these journeys introduce discerning travelers to alluring locales through exclusive, guided tours by way of private jet. The all-inclusive getaways start at $29,900 per person, with pricing based on private flights departing from Los Angeles International Airport; however, adjustments can be made to accommodate travelers flying from other areas of the country. 

Provider Reports

As the global pandemic motivates a new group of consumers to enter the private aviation marketplace, flight providers are taking notice, creating new operations and leveraging business relationships to make the jet-charter experience easier and safer than ever before. 

Private aviation pioneers Clay Lacy Aviation have been offering aircraft cleaning and disinfecting services using bipolar ionization machines to kill surface and airborne pathogens. The process takes about an hour, after which cleaning technicians in Tyvek suits thoroughly clean the aircraft with EPA- and FAA-approved products. The planes are sealed afterward while they stand by for charter. Complete aircraft detailing and cleaning services are offered at their locations in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Seattle, and Oxford, Conn. Additionally, the company has introduced a program to both charter clients and aircraft-management clients to offset 100% of aircraft emissions through the purchase of carbon credits. 

VistaJet made use of its partnerships with Philips and MedAire to embed the Tempus IC2 device across its entire global fleet. The device allows crew members to measure and securely transmit clinical data and images, as well as real-time voice and video broadcasts, directly to MedAire’s ground-based medical team at any time of day. 

Vista Global, parent company of VistaJet, also recently unveiled XO, a new brand that introduces a digital marketplace to allow members to request on-demand charter access to more than 1,500 private jets (encompassing all cabin sizes) around the world, including reservation of seats on shared charter flights.

Similarly, in August, Directional Aviation unveiled FXAIR, a digital-based, on-demand, app-enabled charter service aimed at being an accessible entry point for prospective consumers who are now drawn to private jet travel. When it launched, FXAIR offered access to super mid-cabin, large cabin, and ultra-long-range aircraft. It also provided access to a network of premium aircraft owned and operated by other respected and safe flight providers in the industry. 

Wheels Up has launched Wheels Up Aircraft Sales, a new business unit that offers aircraft brokerage, acquisition, trade, and advisory services. With this expansion, Wheels Up now provides a total aviation solution for both corporate and personal travel.