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Private air travel takes off — but can it stay in the air?

Article Author:

Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Christopher Reynolds

Chris Nowrouzi, CEO and Co-Owner of FlyGTA, is photographed at Buttonville Airport in Markham, Ont., Saturday June 25, 2022.
CEO and joint venture, Chris Nowrouzi FlyGTA The owner was photographed on Saturday, June 25, 2022 at Buttonville Airport in Markham, Ontario.Photographer Chris Young/Canadian news agency

MONTREAL — 3 years ago, Chris Nowrouzi's private charter aviation The company mainly served ultra-wealthy leisure travelers and senior executives in the business world.

Twenty-seven months after a pandemic that closed borders and devastated airlines, his Toronto-based FlyGTA was at health risk and at the airport. We support a wide range of families and groups who are wary of annoyance. Private air travel — and someone who is willing to pay cash.

"After the pandemic, we definitely saw a total increase in numbers," said Nowrouzi, CEO and co-owner of the company. "And the main increase we've seen is the family."

With the aim of more than doubling the seven aircraft in the next few years, FlyGTA is now almost in Florida or the Caribbean. We offer services to more than 20 destinations with half the regular charter flights. Customers can sign up as a group and jet from Toronto to West Palm Beach for approximately $ 25,000 one way (including taxes and fees), or $ 3,125 per person for a group of up to 8 people. .. This is compared to Air Canada fares currently in the $ 1,260 to $ 3,620 range for the same trip in Business Class seats in July.

In a daily frustration scene at a Canadian airport, FlyGTA wants to turn the trend of the COVID-19 era into mile-high comfort. Part of the expanding sector of fleet operators and producers in Canada. Long-term rise in private flights.

Airlines have been struggling since March 2020, but according to the Federal Aviation Administration and Eurocontrol, business jet use increased by 23% in the United States and 53% in Europe in the previous quarter. did. .. These leap are based on the significant increase in 2021.

Flight delays and cancellations, vigilance against potential COVID exposure, wealth surge among HNWIs — 275.5 billion HNWIs worldwide, totaling 5 since March 2021 We saw a trillion US dollar wealth increase, according to a January report from Oxfam International, helping to drive demand for commercial aircraft.

Buyers are also seeing a surge in pre-owned business jets due to their preference for luxury, with total sales of 3.1% of the world's aircraft as of late February, market data. According to the company Jetnet IQ, for over 25 years, making new products more similar options is a good sign for commercial aircraft manufacturers like Bombardier.

The Montreal-based company has increased the backlog of business aircraft orders. In the first quarter, it increased 11% to US $ 13.5 billion. Chris Murray, an analyst at ATB Capital Markets, said in a note to customers last month that "strong bookings" reflect that "we're out of the pandemic and the private jet market is still strengthening at activity levels beyond 2019." is doing.

Meanwhile, according to Umang Gupta, managing director of Alton Aviation Consultancy, airlines earned only 80% of last year's premium travel, down from 90% before the pandemic. ..

"It's a very niche market, but niches seem to be shrinking their income. Today, there are more options." John Gradeck, Head of Aviation Management Program at McGill University, said.

"If you're booking a seat in Air Canada from Toronto to Vancouver in Business Class and you're $ 3,000 or $ 4,000, 6-7 friends can fly together and fly privately. Is cheaper than commercial passenger planes. ”

Increased purchasing options include charter,“ Jet Card ”royalty style programs, full ownership, and“ split ownership ”. It will be.

Charter flights include hiring planes and crew for custom travel. In a jet card program that acts like a premium charter membership, customers prepaid fixed hourly rates and guaranteed availability privileges, and dozens of companies serve North America.

Full ownership means the purchase of a complete airplane by a company or individual. Split ownership also means purchasing a share of the plane under a multi-year contract that covers the hourly rate of boarding time, in addition to costs such as crew wages and maintenance.

Calgary-based companies such as AirSprint, Mississauga and Ontario. The base Jet-Share and HondaJet's newly established JetIt Canada all sell split ownership.

In 2020, Argus International's Business Aviation Report shows that relatively affordable fractional and charter flights make up the unprecedented majority of North American private flight times, overtaking full ownership. I did.

Meanwhile, total flight activity for business jets surged 41% above last year's 2020 level, 7.2% above pre-pandemic levels.

In addition to accessibility, health concerns still come to mind for many in a pandemic. Helane Becker, an analyst at banking company Cowen, said:

Second, there is the pure convenience and (attractive decadence) of private flight.

"There is no waiting time to board the aircraft," Nowrouzi said. "The passport will be checked and we will depart on the plane.

" Upon arrival, a customs agent will come out on the plane, "he added, to revive the past charm of air travel. I created a case for.

"In the 70's, when commercial flights were renewed, people were flying for experiences and destinations, but somewhere along the way, such experiences disappeared.

Even the old-fashioned route to fully buy a jet is more feasible for businesses, leasing companies, and strange individuals, and the list price for the new HondaJet and Cessna jets is From US $ 3. US $ 1 million and US $ 4 million.

"These planes fly directly to Montreal-Miami," Gradek said.

Some clouds point to the horizon.

One is the price of jet fuel, which is ready to stay high this year in step with oil costs.

"And there is a Greta Thunberg factor" — a growing awareness of aviation carbon dioxide emissions and the associated "flygskam" (Swedish for flight shame). ..

But with the pandemic and airport turmoil intensifying, being private may seem much easier to rationalize, said former Air Canada Chief Operating Officer Duncan Dee. Said.

"For those who can afford it, that is, for wealthy individuals and corporate customers, it is a much more legitimate option."

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