Covid and airline challenges increase demand for business jet flights in Los Angeles


Global 7500 aircraft are among the fastest on the market.

Local demand for business jet flights has increased in the last two months of 2021, likely the result of an increase in omicron variant infections and the onslaught of commercial flight delays and cancellations across the country.

Flight data collected by WingX, a Germany-based aviation data analytics company, shows there were 15,980 business jet departures from airports in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, Burbank, Ontario and Santa Ana from November 1 to December 31, which is 55% more than during the same period in 2020 and 25% more than during the less volatile 2019. A similar scenario played out with arrivals at local airports, which totaled 15,717, representing a 54% jump from 2020 and a 25% increase from 2019.

“My personal perception is that at least 80% (of the increase in traffic), if not more, is due to Covid,” said Ed Story, a management consultant and pilot who sits on the boards of the California Pilots. Association and the Santa Monica Airport Association. “There’s obviously an increase in convenience by getting to where you need to go by small jet – you can schedule your departure and arrival separately from commercial airline schedules, so it’s still a But the substantial increase in traffic for small jets to get people point-to-point as part of their schedule, I think, is largely due to concerns about Covid, and probably concerns about difficulties in the major commercial airports.

Story added that flight cancellations were also a factor.
“I don’t want to be too hard on commercial airports, but (they) are having a lot of trouble today separating passengers from each other or dealing with (TSA-related) slowdowns and legitimate security issues. “, did he declare.

Story said increased demand for business jet flights, coupled with rising fuel costs and pilot shortages, will also likely lead to fewer bids on the monthly or annual fees companies pay to use. Services.

“When an operator or business sees their sales increasing, they’re a little less likely to feel pressure to cut costs,” he said.

Local demand

Business jet departures from Los Angeles International Airport totaled 2,546 in the last two months of 2021, up 86% from November and December 2020. The airport recorded 2,466 arrivals , an 81% improvement over 2020.
Van Nuys Airport, home to Clay Lacy Aviation, Pegasus Elite Aviation and Castle & Cooke Aviation Services, handled the most business flights during the holiday months from Los Angeles area airports, handling 6 560 departures and 6,448 arrivals.

Both metrics were up 44% from the same period in 2020 and 30% from 2019.
Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport saw 2,229 departures and 2,227 arrivals in November and December, up 74% and 78% from the same period in 2020, respectively. However, departures and arrivals were down single digits from the end of 2019.

VistaJet US Inc., a New York subsidiary of Malta-based airline VistaJet Group Holding is among several companies picking up passengers at the three airports.
“Overall, we are seeing an increase in demand for private aviation, and the Los Angeles area is no exception,” President Leona Qi said via email. “From November to December 2021, we had a 21% increase in flights to and from Los Angeles.”

Qi added that the number of touchpoints drops significantly when flying privately – 20 interactions compared to 700 when flying with commercial airlines. This perceived safety factor could explain why 71% of VistaJet’s incoming inquiries these days are for flights from passengers who have not regularly used private aviation before.

“We expect the increased number of first-time private travelers to continue growing in 2022 and beyond as travelers seek safer and more reliable flight solutions,” she said.

Longer journeys

Qi also noted that over the past year, VistaJet has seen demand for long-haul flights to and from the Los Angeles area, prompting the company to add a fleet of Global aircraft. 7500, “one of the fastest and longest aircraft available on the market.”

“In November and December, some international pairs on the Global 7500 to and from Los Angeles were: London, Tokyo, St. Maarten and Prague,” Qi said.

Hawthorne-based Advanced Air maintains and operates a fleet of two dozen planes that customers can charter and uses those planes for scheduled flights on which customers can purchase seats. The company also operates flights for Hawthorne-based Surf Air Mobility Corp. and New Mexico-based Taos Air, owned by Taos Ski Valley Inc.

“We operate both commercial and charter flights, (and) when you combine the two activities, we see departures up 44% compared to the same period in 2020 and up 25% compared to the same period in 2019. Charter hours are up 36% from 2019 and 64% from 2020,” Barbara Hunt, Advanced Air’s vice president of business operations, said via email. “We hear from customers saying they want to avoid the large crowds and touch points that come with commercial airports and airlines.”

Sudhin Shahani, co-founder and chief executive of Surf Air, was hesitant to attribute all the credit for the increase in traffic to the pandemic.
“Surf Air sees several factors contributing to the month-over-month increase in flights and passenger numbers,” Shahani said via email. “We believe our customers’ desire to fly affordable scheduled service from smaller regional airports and a more decentralized workforce has increased demand, which we believe will continue even as the pandemic is easing.”

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