Commercial airlines continue to struggle amidst COVID-19, as is evidenced by United’s announcement that the airline is putting 16,370 workers on involuntary, indefinite furlough at the start of October. Along with 7,400 voluntary departures, the airline is cutting its workforce by more than 25%. It’s not alone. American Airlines recently announced 19,000 furloughs and layoffs, while Delta cut its workforce by 20% through buyouts.
While the private air travel industry bottomed out in April after a brief spike in March as people rushed to return to their residences, it has seen a significant recovery but is still operating at around 80% of last year’s volume. In May demand began to slowly increase and continued to gain momentum throughout summer. With a return in September to school/work, demand has dropped off as the majority of private flights conducted since COVID-19 hit are for personal travel.
What we have seen here at ClickJetz is that flyers are still concerned and cautious about traveling. That concern is less about the likelihood of viral transmission onboard private aircraft, than it is about leaving the security of their homes and entering public spaces. Our regular flyers are postponing vacations and frequent travel, choosing rather to remain in place. On the other hand, we are seeing a high percentage of first-time private flyers as people who need to fly, are choosing to fly private, in an effort to mitigate their risk of acquiring COVID-19.
We expect the market to continue to fluctuate as infections spike in different regions around the U.S. and worldwide. Florida, for instance, which topped the list for private flight activity from April through June, saw a sharp decline in flights as its COVID-19 outbreak accelerated in July. Additionally, with Europe continuing to keep its borders closed to U.S. citizens, there is limited transatlantic activity. Understandably, most private charter travel continues to be regional/domestic as travelers are limited by governmental regulations and at the same time feel more comfortable remaining closer to home.
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In the fall of 1908 Wilbur Wright went to France to prove to nonbelievers that he and his brother Orville had indeed conquered flight. Among those in the crowd, and lucky enough to join Wilbur for a ride, was an eccentric young woman named Raymonde de Laroche. One ride aboard the Flyer was all it took and de Laroche was hooked.
A year later the 23-year old actress and daredevil convinced French aviator Charles Voisin to teach her to fly. Since Voisin’s aircraft could only seat one person, teaching someone to fly meant shouting instructions from the ground to the pupil operating the plane. After taxiing across the airfield twice, and against Voisin’s explicit instruction not to lift off, de Laroche climbed 15 feet into the air, flying for a few hundred yards and became the first woman to pilot an aircraft and one of the women of aviation.
After further instruction, on March 8, 1910 de Laroche was issued pilot’s license No. 36 by the Aeroclub de France (the world’s first pilot licensing organization) becoming the first woman to receive a pilot’s license. It was around this time that, despite not being of noble birth, she became known as “the Baroness”.
De Laroche traveled the world attending aviation meetings, participating in demonstrations and winning competitions in which she was the sole female contender. Despite this, when World War I rolled around in 1914 halting civilian flying, de Laroche was turned down by the war effort when she offered up her piloting skills. After the war de Laroche aimed to become the first female test pilot and set two women’s altitude records as well as one for distance.
On July 18, 1919, while visiting Le Crotoy airfield in pursuit of becoming a test pilot, she was offered a ride in an experimental Caudron aircraft. Upon its landing approach the aircraft went into an uncontrolled dive and crashed to the ground. Both the pilot and 33-year-old de Laroche were killed.
In recognition of her accomplishments in aviation, a statue of “Baroness” Raymonde de Laroche stands at Paris-Le Bourget Airport. Women of Aviation Worldwide Week honors de Laroche by including March 8th, the anniversary of the issuance of her pilot’s license, during their annual event.
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The weather is getting increasingly unpredictable and it’s probably safe to say that at some point every one of us has had a flight affected by the weather. Last February, Las Vegas saw snow for the first time in over a decade and it crippled their commercial airport. We had a number of calls from people whose flight was either canceled or significantly delayed and we were able to get every one of them on their way on a private charter despite the weather.
How were we able to do this?
First, it should be clear that private aircraft are held to the same safety guidelines as commercial airlines and that our operators and pilots always put the safety of their passengers first. Bad weather does still affect private flights, it just doesn’t impact them to the same degree as commercial airliners.
Private aircraft are smaller and transport a lot fewer people than a commercial flight. They require fewer resources and less coordination between those resources to operate. This allows them to react more quickly than commercial flights once weather begins to hinder airport operations and the backlog of flights begins. If a window opens up that allows for take-off, they can quickly move into action. This agility is an advantage during inclement weather.
Also contributing to the agility of private aircraft, is their access to far more airports from which to operate. During the Las Vegas snowfall previously mentioned, while McCarran Airport, the commercial airport in Vegas, was backed up and at one point shut-down, we were able to use Henderson Executive Airport, twenty minutes south of McCarran, to get our clients on their way. Despite experiencing the same weather as McCarran, without the commercial traffic, flights into and out of Henderson Executive were able to be operated more expeditiously.
Lastly, the flight paths for private aircraft are more flexible than those for commercial airliners, allowing private aircraft to fly over or around severe weather more easily. This flexibility means there is a better chance your aircraft will be on its way to its destination rather than remaining grounded until the weather clears.
The Vegas snowfall was an absolute anomaly and something we probably won’t see again for another decade, but there are plenty of airports where weather delays are a regular occurrence. If your commercial flight is cancelled or delayed due to weather and you must get to your destination, reach out to us and we’ll let you know if a private charter is an option in getting you safely to your next destination.
And of course, you can click here to a quote in 15 minutes or less!.
The turboprop is an ideal aircraft option for short hops of one to two hours. There are many negative myths about turboprops that need to be cleared up.
Turboprops VS Jets
Both turboprops and jets use turbine engines. The key difference between the two types of aircraft is that jet aircraft have their turbine engines encased with fan blades while turboprops have a propeller on the outside.
The turboprop mechanism is actually more efficient and burns less fuel than the jet mechanism, which is why turboprops have a lower hourly rate than a similarly-sized jet aircraft. However, turboprops were designed to be flown at a lower altitude and speed and therefore are not appropriate for long distances. But if you are doing a short hop, like from Los Angeles to Las Vegas or Miami to the Bahamas, a turboprop is a cost-effective and safe solution.
Another thing turboprops have going for them is their short-field take-off and landing capabilities. This means that they are able to use shorter runways which gives them access to those smaller, regional airports at hard-to-reach destinations.
When it comes to comfort, the interior of many turboprops are equally as luxurious as any light jet. In fact, the baggage hold of many turboprops are more spacious than their light jet counterparts which makes them a better option when you are carrying bulky items such as skis or surfboards.
How Safe is a Turboprop?
As far as safety, turboprops and jets both use a turbine engine, meaning their operation is very similar. They both use similar technology including radar, GPS navigation and advanced avionics. To date there is no data demonstrating that turboprops are any less safe than jets and in fact, in certain conditions, like with short runways and steep approaches, turboprops are safer than jets because they can stop more quickly and their propellers add extra drag. Lastly, in bird strikes, a turboprop engine is less likely to be damaged due to their inertial separator mechanism.
Lots of people confuse turboprops with piston aircraft and it must be clear that piston aircraft do not match the safety or comfort of a jet which is why we choose not to use them at ClickJets.
Another fallacy that exists regarding turboprops is that a dual engine turboprop is safer than a single engine turboprop. This myth has been disproved by safety statistics pulled from the FAA and NTSB. Modern turbine engines are extremely reliable, and the reality is engine malfunction is rarely the primary contributor to an accident or incident.
The take away today? Turboprops are a safe, often luxurious and definitely economical option for your short hops of one to two hours.
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You are flying private from Los Angeles to New York City and your itinerary has you departing Van Nuys and arriving into Teterboro. What’s up with that? Why aren’t you flying LAX to JFK?
Okay, today we are talking about the airports we use in private aviation and why.
When possible, we use private-only airports and at the very least a low-volume commercial airport. For instance, here in LA we avoid using LAX for our flights and stick to using either Van Nuys Airport or Hawthorne Airport. Why would we do that?
Traffic: that’s both up in the air and on the ground.
Let’s start with up in the air:
Large commercial airports facilitate hundreds or thousands of flights each day. This requires a tremendous amount of coordination. If a wrench is thrown in the works, like say weather, flights start backing up and that carefully orchestrated plan quickly goes to hell.
We want to avoid getting caught up in the flurry of commercial airliners, freight and mail carriers coming in and out of LAX. We want to make sure that your flight is cleared to depart and land on time and the best way to do that is to use an airport with limited traffic.
When we talk about traffic that we want to avoid, we are also talking about ground traffic. The Clickjetz offices are just south of LAX Airport and airport traffic backing up on the freeway and the surrounding roads is a daily occurrence. Because tens of thousands of people are trying to reach those thousands of flights on a daily basis. We want to stay away from all those people in all those cars. Like the air traffic, the ground traffic at private airports is significantly less.
Private aircraft are not based at the major commercial airports due to limited space. Every time an aircraft is moved, it costs money. So departing from the aircraft’s base keeps your cost down. Additionally, since the commercial airports have enough to handle with their regularly scheduled flights they don’t really want to add private flights to their current load so they tend to charge higher fees than the smaller airports for using their facility.
This isn’t to mean you cannot use a commercial airport, especially if you are meeting a connecting commercial flight, but know that the clickjetz staff will recommend the best airport for your trip to provide you the smoothest travel experience.
Final point. Convenience
There are thousands more airports worldwide for private aircraft to use. Why is this important?
Here’s an example. Coachella is a popular music festival here in SoCal which takes place in the small desert town of the same name. People from across the U.S,. and beyond, come to experience Coachella and for the most part fly into LAX or Ontario Airport. On a “normal” weekend it’s a three-hour drive from LAX and an hour-and-half drive from Ontario to reach Coachella. Of course during the festival the drive is much longer as everyone and their mother is trying to get to and from the festival. There are some, not many, regional flights that go directly into Palm Springs Airport which cuts the drive down considerably to about 40 minutes to an hour. Private flights, however, can use Bermuda Dunes Airport which is about 6 miles from the festival grounds. See how this is an advantage? Many people envision flying private as a champagne-sipping, luxury experience. While that is a piece of it, a major component of the “luxury” experience is ease and convenience. Being able to fly directly to your destination and not waste hours cooped up in a car is the absolute luxury. Easy in, easy out and onto the next.
So don’t be surprised if you are offered an alternate airport on your quote, our purpose here is to provide you the best flight experience possible and that is often done by avoiding thus hub airports and taking advantage of private and low volume airports.
Have a question regarding the best airport for your trip? Reach out and we are happy to provide our expertise or answer any of your questions regarding flying private.