Alina Gavrushenko, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Monarch Air Group, shares her thoughts on the industry’s historic year, fueled by its resiliency and superior flexibility.
How Private Aviation Increased Demand
When your sales increase by more than 120% compared to 2020 it is safe to say you’ve had a good year. That was the case for Monarch Air Group in 2021, which saw record figures for domestic movements in the US. This was also true for major players in the industry, powered by commercial aviation’s inefficiency during the pandemic and a change in expectations by passengers, who started to seek a safer and more efficient way of travel, with reduced touchpoints and reliable service.
With commercial aviation almost entirely grounded during the early stages of 2021, private aviation was the go-to option for those in need of travel. Record figures were established every month of 2021, with Florida unsurprisingly leading the way as the state with the most movements. Furthermore, this increased demand registered a clear shift in the type of aircraft that was booked, with light and midsize jets soaring through the skies instead of larger heavy aircraft.
Smaller jets in the sky
The previous trend is explained by the rise in domestic travel, which demands shorter routes and less passengers in each flight. In fact, since early 2021 for Monarch Air Group, 55% percent of chartered private jets have been light or midsized, compared to only 14% of super-midsize and larger aircraft. Turboprops also were a top option thanks to their versatility and reduced operational costs, accounting for 27% of all charter bookings for the year.
Interestingly enough, although international charter travel has yet to reach pre-Covid levels, for Monarch Air Group that was not entirely the case. The reason? Based in Fort Lauderdale, the Caribbean is roughly two hours away from South Florida and can be reached by a wide variety of aircraft, especially those with a cost-efficient operation. Our main destination from the US to the Caribbean during 2021 was The Bahamas, followed by Turks and Caicos Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the Dominican Republic.
The rise of first-time private jet flyers
The increase in demand due to the pandemic resulted in an all-time high of first-time private flyers. The majority of them were previous commercial passengers that opted for the shift thanks to safety and reliability. Private aviation meant for them a flexible means of transportation, without crowds and the usual airport hassle, and far away from potential virus infection thanks to a controlled preflight and post-flight travel experience. This showcases a big opportunity and challenge for the entire industry as we need to understand how to continuously meet the expectations of the new consumers while exceeding those of the frequent fliers. It is a great place to be, if you ask me…
Late 2021 also registered a rise in leisure private travel to places with warm weather. After more than two years of lockdown, people felt the need of a well-deserved reboot and travel is, as usual, the perfect medicine. Snowbirds flying from Canada and New York to South Florida started to pick up before Thanksgiving and bookings for Christmas and New Year are an important trend these days that demonstrates the good health of the industry.
Furthermore, as vaccination drives continue increasing worldwide and travel restrictions are lifted, the need for face-to-face business will regain shape sooner than later. This trend started in late 2021 within the US but is projected to also continue in the international charter realm, especially for transatlantic flights. Although the rise of new variants might pause that possibility in the countries that are most impacted. That is definitely something to constantly track.
In summary, 2021 was a great year for private aviation. The industry learned how to adapt to the pandemic at the early stages, and then to thrive thanks to its characteristic flexibility, safety, and diversification. At Monarch Air Group, we expect this rise to continue as, in a way, the industry as a whole has passed the test with flying colors, demonstrating its added value and how its incomparable to commercial aviation in regard to customization, reliability and safety. We will continue to position the needs of our passengers in the core of our bottom line, as there is no other possible way to lead a sustained trust-based relationship with our diverse stakeholders.