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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