PrivateFly, a global private jet booking platform, has been arranging jet charters since 2008. They just looked back at 2019 to summarize the trends they saw across their bookings.

Background

As a bit of background, the idea for PrivateFly came to husband and wife team Adam Twidell and Carol Cork in 2007. Twidell had served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force, RAF, and then flown for NetJets. The couple saw a gap in the market for private jet charters, realizing that more people were becoming dissatisfied with commercial flights but felt confused by private charters. PrivateFly would provide a transparent and efficient database, allowing potential travelers to search for charters and to see clear pricing information.

The company quickly gained traction, winning a number of awards for business innovation within its first few years. By 2013, PrivateFly expanded service to France and Germany, and in 2016, they opened an office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. That same year, they became the first UK Argus Certified Broker. In 2018, the Directional Aviation OneSky group purchased the company. PrivateFly now has access to more than 7,000 aircraft in its network. Company headquarters are in St. Albans, UK, with US operations based in Boston.

PrivateFly Trends

Among the trends that PrivateFly noted for 2019:

1. Destinations. The top three destinations for PrivateFly charter customers are New York, London, and Nice. Interestingly, 2019 saw Nice take the third-place spot from Paris for the first time. New York City remains a key destination for east coast flights, transcontinental, and international flights from Europe. Other top US destinations include Las Vegas and South Florida, with three Florida locations in the top ten. These Florida locations in the US and Nice and Ibiza in Europe show that the flights include a mix of both business use and vacation or leisure use. Another statistic that highlights leisure travel, is that the busiest time of the week for flight departures was Friday at 11am, as people head away for the weekend.

Privatefly takeoff time

2. Aircraft type. The Nextant 400XTi is the most requested plane, the Citation XLS/XLS+ is second and the Legacy 600 ranked third. This is largely due to the aircrafts’ roles in the CityPairs Europe program (see below). Customer demand is still mostly for small jets such as the Cessna and Embraer models because the “majority of activity in the on-demand charter market is for short hops”. However, demand for long range and super midsize jets has grown and they now account for 26% of all chartered flights.

Nextant 400XTi

3. Bookings. Forty-eight percent of bookings are made within a week of travel. This has dropped slightly from previous years, mainly because more people are booking earlier to secure flights at peak times. Of these longer bookings, 21% are made more than 30 days ahead and 16% are made 15-30 days ahead. At the same time, bookings can be made at short notice or even very short notice.

In 2019, PrivateFly set a new company record of only 16 minutes from time of booking to take off for a flight chartered from NY Teterboro to Nashville. PrivateFly told us that the customer was on the ground at Teterboro and requested a plane which happened to be there with its crew all ready to go – they were in the air 16 minutes later. As an aside, this is pretty amazing, and is more likely to happen at somewhere like Teterboro that has a lot of private flight activity. For most private planes, charter operators will typically ask for about 24 hours notice and even the large fractional operators will say they need 6 to 10 hours notice, but faster times are possible if an aircraft and crew happen to be in the right place at the right time.

4. Flight times. The average flight taken with a PrivateFly charter in 2019 was just under three hours. The company’s availability of charters for both local and long-distance flights means that there is a huge variety of journey lengths, with the shortest flight coming in at just 27 minutes from Manchester to the Isle of Man. The longest flight took just over 10 hours, traveling from New York to Armenia.

5. Customer spending. The average per flight spending dropped in the long range, super midsize, and medium categories but rose slightly in the small jet and turboprop aircraft categories. The largest growth by far for spending was in the large and regional airliner category; the average amount spent per trip in this category was $157,230, an increase of 150%. In contrast, average spending per trip for a turboprop aircraft was $10,430, an 8% increase on the previous year, and was $14,180 on light jets. Overall, the amount spent per flight increased, thanks to the large airliner flights. The number of flights taken in the long range and midsize categories increased but the average amount spent per flight dropped. This is attributed to the special CityPairs pricing for the Legacy 600.

6. Who’s flying? The demographics of the average PrivateFly customer has changed little over the past few years. More than 70% of fliers are male, with an average age of 41. This reflects a large number of corporate charters. At the same time, 12% of all passengers were children, indicating that the charter service is also used by families traveling for leisure. Flights carried an average of 4 passengers and 4% of flights had pets onboard.

CityPairs

In 2019 PrivateFly launched their CityPairs program, offering fixed-rate pricing on a number of routes throughout Europe. All flights are on Nextant 400XTi light jets or Legacy 600 heavy jets. Destinations covered by the CityPairs program include London, Paris, Geneva, Nice, Amsterdam, and other key cities, as well as some resorts such as Ibiza.

Flight prices are up to 30% lower than market averages and are fixed for a year. Regardless of any fluctuations in the industry, the price remains set. All prices include the entire aircraft for a one-way flight, at the departure date and time of your choosing, with onboard drinks and catering. A flight attendant is also provided on the Legacy 600 flights.

Some sample prices are:

    Nextant 400XTi Legacy 600
    London to Geneva $7,000 $22,000
    Paris to Barcelona $9,500 $19,500
    Geneva to Moscow NA $42,000
    Nice to London $8,000 $21,000

SherpaReport will continue to review interesting statistics from the private aviation industry that show the trends in the market place. Sign up for the newsletter if you would like to stay up to date.