HOW COVID 19 HAS IMPACTED PRIVATE AVIATION IN 2020
COVID19 has sent shock-waves throughout the entire travel industry, here Kyle Patel, BitLux CEO, shares his thoughts...
The outbreak has affected travel, air transportation especially, in an historic way. What private aviation providers learned in 2020 will be key for delivering an ever safer and comprehensive service. Companies and passengers alike were caught off guard and they both participated in the sense-making process of the new normal. Those firms who understood that process, will be able to co-create value with their clients moving forward. Kyle Patel, BitLux CEO, shares his thoughts below.
Separating the facts from fiction
Aircraft chartering is the advisable alternative to avoid places with a large flow of people. More than ever, that has been arguably the main trait for this industry during the ongoing pandemic. When booking an aircraft with a private charter company like BitLux, the number of passengers is reduced,leaving the occupancy at the discretion of the customer. In addition,the use of exclusive service rooms causes the few passengers to be directed to separate routes, outside the flow of general terminals andt hat can go to places of isolation where the risk of contamination is lower.
Private aviation has several traits that help clients control a larger extent of their travel experience. For starters, passengers choose with whom to travel, which helps to control, in a way, spreading of the disease. Nevertheless, passengers still need to embark at an FBO (private terminal) and engage with personnel. And who can assure that all the passengers that will fly in that plane do not have coronavirus? They certainly do not have testing kits on FBO’s. So yes, being able to decide who sits next to you might potentially help to reduce spread but does not assure you won’t get the virus.
An undetectable fact was the increase in demand for business aircraft around the world in 2020, the main reason being the restriction on commercial aviation imposed at many countries. While, for instance, the U.S. Government shut commercial aviation coming from Europe, U.S. residents still needed a means of transportation to cross the Atlantic. And as commercial airlines ceased most routes to the states, private aviation was the way to “cross the pond” for hundred their citizens in Europe. Executive travel therefore serves as an option to get to smaller airports in regions not yet entirely affected and without harsh travel bans.
Truth to be told, private aviation passengers still needed to connect with the world for ground transportation to and from the terminal, engage with the flight crew, FBO staff and potentially other passengers waiting to board their charter jet on the same FBO. Again, there might be a smaller probability of spread because of the known traits of this market, but by no means it is the cure for prevention. Stating the previous is irresponsible.
Best practices for providers
Experts note that private aviation offers 20 to 30 times fewer opportunities for the spread of the virus. If there are up to 600 points of contact that expose passengers to the risk of contagion on a single commercial flight, there are only 20 such interactions when flying privately. For this last point, this includes contact with ground transportation drivers to the terminal (one for each direction), employees in the hangar (usually 2 contacts before and after the flight) and the crew (2 pilots).
Charter providers have greater control over their aircraft disinfection processes, which combined with less congested private jet terminals positively affects passenger exposure to the virus. Some of the best practices for limiting the spread of COVID-19, commonly shared among international executive aviation associations include:
• Use an antiviral disinfectant between each flight. The interiors of all leased aircraft should be thoroughly cleaned, while any items that cannot be cleaned should be removed accordingly.
• Make hand sanitizing gel available to every passenger in lounges, restrooms, and aircraft interiors.
• Monitor the health of your crew and pilots. Measure the temperature regularly.
• During overnight stays, direct the crew to smaller hotels.
• Plan your refueling in advance, as airports could unexpectedly close on the day of your flight.
• Limit passenger contact with lounge staff, pilots, and your charter sales team.
• Select terminals that allow a faster boarding, with limited contact with other people.
Faced with the growing risks of the spread of the coronavirus worldwide, the business aviation sector appears to be particularly well positioned to fill the gap left by commercial aviation, even throughout 2021. The fleets of airlines on the ground and the growing demand for types of transport less exposed to the virus could positively affect the sector, prepared to fly entrepreneurs, medical equipment, and all types of cargo.
BitLux provides various services across the air charter industry, but Executive Travel is one that is closest to heart. Whether you are flying for business or leisure, BitLux provides a top tier private jet service that actively exceeds expectations.