The virus pandemic has increased demand for private jets and is expected to continue with the lack of commercial flight options.
Kenn Ricci, the chairman of Flexjet, told Bloomberg his private-plane business is soaring like never before as he scrambles to find planes to expand his fleet. The company provides fractional ownership for private jets, aircraft leasing, and jet card services for people who wish to avoid busy airports and travel in comfort.
Ricci said the "used private jet market has been picked clean," and ordering new planes from aircraft manufacturers takes longer than usual. He said 65 aircraft had been ordered to expand Flexjet's fleet by 40% next year.
Flexjet demand has been off the charts since the pandemic and will continue through 2022 as the company had to suspend sales of blocks of flight hours. The influx of new customers means Flexjet's annual growth has surged 30% this year. Ricci believes new customers who began using their service during the virus pandemic will stick around because of convenience.
Even though corporate travel remains subdued - private aircraft flights are at the highest since 2008.
The demand for new private jets means boon times for planemakers, including Bombardier Inc., Textron Inc., Embraer SA, and General Dynamics Inc.'s Gulfstream unit. Those companies cut deliveries early in the pandemic but are now boosting production and raising prices.
Ron Draper, CEO of Textron Aviation, the maker of Cessna jets, said the influx of new customers comes as a surprise as many discover that avoiding commercial air travel is essential in a post-COVID world.
Take, for example, the thousand-plus flights Southwest Airlines canceled in the last few days stranded passengers across the county because of an alleged sickout by pilots over vaccine mandates. If anyone has been in this position, flight cancellations and delays are a headache.
Avoid commercial air travel. Take a private jet appears to be a hot trend among those with the financial ease to do so.