(KRON) – The airline industry is still trying to recover from the pandemic.
While people are flying again, the numbers aren’t anywhere near where they were before COVID hit. Some people are turning their backs on commercial flights and taking private jets.
KRON4’s Ken Wayne spoke with a private aviation company who says their business is up 29% from last year.
“In terms of private aviation, we feel very lucky that our business has come back and seen an uptick.”
Leona Qi is the president of VistaJet U.S., a company that flies almost 80 private jets to nearly every country on earth.
While major international airports such as SFO are still struggling to recover, VistaJet says regional airports in places such as Tahoe, the wine country, and Monterey are in high demand.
The planes can be available within 24 hours and get customers closer to where they want to go without many of the hassles and potential exposures at big airports.
“On average, there are 700 touchpoints when you’re flying commercial from point a to point b. Through the airport, including if you need to use the restroom, you purchase food, etc. When you’re flying private, you go through an FBO. In some cases, you go to the airplane directly from your car. The touchpoint is only around 20, so that’s 35 times less. So that’s a big reason that a lot of people start to fly private. As a matter of fact, 70% of our incoming inquiries are coming from folks that were never flying private before.”
But don’t expect to pay the prices you’d get on Southwest.
“Our cost is anywhere from $12,000 an hour to $25,000 an hour. So it is much higher than flying commercial. That’s something that travelers should take into consideration.”
Of course, that’s for the whole plane, not per seat. Jets need to get to the passengers, and that can mean they sometimes fly empty.
VistaJet says in those cases it will offer up seats for humanitarian efforts, such as flying stranded citizens home.
“So during COVID-19, we donated our empty legs to different governments. We took New Zealand citizens from the Philippines back to Auckland.”