Private jets fly over the pandemic

Travel in luxury | The collapse of commercial flights increases the prominence of executive aviation, an option that is no longer exclusive to large fortunes and is increasingly widespread in the business world


It is not that they have just arrived, far from it, but it is true that the health emergency has given them an unknown boost where until now their use continues to be linked to a small group of privileged people. Executive aviation climbs positions and does so by building on a new passenger profile that values ​​the possibility of flying nonstop between destinations where there were no connections with liner services, the health security of traveling in a protected environment and without strangers, and doing it with discretion and comfort. But, above all, what that someone is looking for is a flexible operation in a scenario, that of the business world, always changing. A phenomenon to which Spain is no stranger, where the trend is also upward, although the market share is lower than that of countries such as the United Kingdom, France or Germany.

This reading should not be understood in absolute terms. The airspace has been intermittently closed to everyone, but the de-escalation has been experienced differently depending on the business model. While commercial aviation has faced brutal drops of 70% and up to 80% in traffic and countless connections have disappeared, executive flights have been better able to weather the storm – 513,045 departures of private jets support it -, with losses than in Europe They were around 23.8% but some segments even ended up positive.

It seems to be the case of Emptyleg, which last year increased the number of confirmed private jet flights by 17%, making good the saying that the rich do not suffer crises, they take advantage of them. “The reduction of regular flights in the framework of the pandemic has generated an interest where there was none before,” says José Manuel Álvarez, the president of the company, an air broker without its own fleet but specialized in providing private flights to individuals, companies and organizations, “which means finding the best device at any time and anywhere in the world.”

Also in Europair they have known how to make a virtue out of necessity. Until now its main source of income was to facilitate flight programs for European tour operators; a line of business that, as Gerardo Manzano, its CEO, explains, “has been widely surpassed by the management of solutions in private planes”.

It is difficult not to find a person who has never flown before, but it is even more difficult to find someone who has flown by jet. Who are the customers of these exclusive devices, in addition to the great fortunes? More and more companies are using private aviation as a work tool, which allows better use of time and translates into economic savings, explains the CEO of Europair. Executives who can chain meetings in two or three places separated by hundreds of kilometers, “willing to overcome any barrier to maintain economic activity, to invest to continue interacting and producing.”