- Private jets boomed during the start of the pandemic as customers sought travel perceived as safer.
- Experts say the convenience of private jets and the reduction of airline connectivity also contributed to the surge.
- Several aircraft manufacturers have introduced new private jet models and concepts this year in response to demand.
Private aviation has boomed since the start of the pandemic as deep-pocket travelers ditch commercial flying for the percieved safety and convenience of private travel.
With the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, many travelers turned to private aviation, and industry leaders say the exodus from commercial travel stemmed from customers wanting to reduce potential COVID-19 exposure and avoid crowded airports.
“While the number of touchpoints for a typical airline trip can number 700, flying private can reduce that to just about 30,” Alex Fecteau, Boeing Business Jets’ director of marketing, said at the NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in October. “There’s a greatly perceived measure of increased safety flying private.”
Meanwhile, Tradewind Aviation co-founder and vice president David Zipkin told Insider that customers want a more convenient and reliable travel experience during a turbulent year full of delays, cancelations, and unruly passengers. He also said airline connectivity has contributed to the switch, with many carriers scrubbing routes or decreasing frequencies, prompting travelers to opt for private flying.
“We are seeing people leave commercial flying for the health and safety, but stay for the convenience,” he said.
Because of the increased interest, mostly from new customers, business aviation take-off and landings in the US are up 40% year-over-year, reported CNBC. According to analysts, the trend is attributed to the “wealth boom” that has occurred during the pandemic and widened the customer base.
“The addressable market right now for business jets has expanded. The pie has gotten bigger,” Embraer chief commercial officer Stephen Friedrich said. “And the result is from continued wealth creation of over 12% when you take a look at the billionaires in the world, but also from what was traditionally Fortune 100 and large private companies.”
The surge in business aviation has caused private jet inventory to drop below 3% for companies like Gulfstream, Embraer, Cessna, and Bombardier, according to data from Jefferies Equity Research, reported CNBC.
“Things are really tight in used business jet aircraft, inventories the lowest we’ve seen in years, and yet prices are 20 to 30% higher,” John Schmidt, global aerospace and defense industry lead at consultancy Accenture, told CNBC.
With the market booming, planemakers see an opportunity for engineering new private jets to meet the growing demand. Here’s a look at some of the models and concepts that were introduced in 2021.
Dassault Falcon 10X
French aircraft manufacturer Dassault unveiled its new flagship private jet in May, the Falcon 10X. The plane costs $75 million, can fly over 7,500 nautical miles, and boasts the widest cabin of any competitor. Dassault’s Falcon 10X is the largest and widest aircraft the company has ever built, and it hopes the long-range plane will stack up to competitors like Gulfstream and Bombardier.
The G700, which Insider’s Tom Pallini saw firsthand when it stopped in Doha, Qatar on its world demonstration tour, boasts a large cabin and impressive range. The new $75 million jet can fly up to 7,500 nautical miles and be configured with up to five living spaces with room for 19 passengers. The cabin is wide enough to house a bedroom with a full-size bed, which can be installed instead of an office, as well as an en suite bathroom with an onboard shower.
Gulfstream unveiled two new next-generation twinjets in October, the first being the large-cabin G400. The plane boasts the largest and quietest cabin in its class with two and a half living areas accommodating up to 12 passengers. The jet also offers the lowest cabin altitude in its class and 10 panoramic windows, which are the largest in the industry.
The second jet Gulfstream revealed in October was the long-range G800. The aircraft can fly further faster than its predecessors with the help of its 13,496-pound thrust Rolls-Royce engines. The plane can fly up to 8,000 miles at Mach 0.85, which is further than the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, according to Boeing specs.
Honda Aircraft Company HondaJet 2600
Honda Aircraft Company revealed its newest private jet concept in October, the HondaJet 2600 that is intended to be the world’s first light aircraft capable of nonstop transcontinental flying across the US. The plane will have a range of 2,625 nautical miles and set several records, including the highest flight ceiling, highest cabin pressurization, and the tallest cabin height.
Bombardier Challenger 3500
Bombardier announced an upgrade to its Challenger 350 private jet in September, naming the new version the Challenger 3500. The mid-sized plane has not had a major update since its 2014 debut, but the manufacturer sees the necessity for a revamped aircraft as the demand for business travel continues to boom, according to Reuters. The plane will have a redesigned cabin and feature undisclosed elements from the company’s Global 7500 jet.