According to a recent IATA forecast, it could take at least 18 months for international commercial aviation to get back on track after the COVID-19 outbreak. But how will ultra high net worth (UHNW) travellers plan their trips and holidays?
Just a couple of days before the sudden and unexpected suspension of international flights across the UAE, a few luxury private jets belonging to Russian moguls and Forbes rich list members landed on the runway of the VIP Terminal in Al Maktoum International Airport.
For the next few months, a number of UHNW individuals have chosen Dubai as home, due to the measures implemented to protect residents and visitors alike, from the COVID 19 epidemic. Dubai has become a safe haven for their families, domestic workers and even personal doctors, all of whom will reside on private superyachts docked in marinas or spacious mansions with private pools and lavish green gardens.
The sunny weather, a wide range of round the clock personalised services, full privacy guarantee, stable food provision, advanced healthcare infrastructure have all contributed to Dubai becoming the ideal bolt hole for the UHNW travellers. The low number of coronavirus cases and luxurious isolation possibilities have contributed significantly to underscore Dubai an irresistible choice for travellers with the means to do so.
It is not hard to see how COVID-19 has brought a small, but unmistakable, silver-lining for private jet operators. Whether returning home from infected countries, planning luxurious holidays in the country where they hold additional citizenship or merely looking for first-class commercial flight replacements, millionaires throughout the world want to ensure they get to their destination with as little human contact as possible.
Private jet booking companies have experienced a surge in bookings with wealthy individuals arranging ‘rescue’ flights to get themselves or their families out of high-risk areas and to a place of relative safety.
While commercial aviation giants are facing unprecedented times as a result of the COVID-19, the private aviation industry is anticipating a boom.
“The best days for private jets will be the next 18 months”, said the CEO of FBO operator, who preferred to stay anonymous.
“We will see new categories of private jet travellers. First and business class passengers of commercial airlines in time of disruption will come to us, we expect them to use private jets frequently, including corporate buyers flying as a group and large Arab families, who want to feel both safe and fly as normal”. This would be much stronger and give it more credibility if we could use the name of the person or the company.
According to some private jet operator’s, the pandemic will help to adopt a new vision of the business traveller both in terms of how they board and fly on private jets. They forecast private aviation business will recover in three phases: from repatriation , to business trips, and finally to leisure tourism.
So who will win the race for super-rich wallets?
Companies that can maintain the highest standards of safety and social distancing, while supporting the lifestyle of their exclusive clientele..