Private jet travel has always come with more than a touch of glamour and intrigue.
They conjure up images of rock stars, film stars and billionaires being whisked onto aircraft at private airfields – waving goodbye to the red carpet and hello to an exclusive villa in some exotic location.
Now, with the world still coping with a global pandemic, they have taken on a new guise: an opportunity to travel when nobody else can.
The prospect – even for extremely wealthy travellers – of taking a schedule flight right now is a complicated one.
First Class doesn’t quite feel the same when it is not possible to be served meals, you have to pick up your own drinks in the galley and there’s a nagging air of nervousness around the plane when it comes to wondering who on board might have the virus.
No wonder those who can afford it are turning to private jet travel instead.
Chapman Freeborn, a global VIP private jet charter specialist with 45 years of experience catering to the movie and music world as well as high-net-worth individuals, is predicting a boom in business.
Kathy Leroy, VIP Charter Manager, said: “ Private jet travel brings so many benefits, not least the privacy of having your own aircraft and knowing that only your own people are on board.
“That’s really important at the moment because of fears over Covid-19. Clients don’t want to have to take a scheduled flight and battle their way through all those people at the airport, they’d rather go from a private airfield, have their own lounge and board the plane almost without seeing anyone else.
“ Private jet travel also gives you more freedom in terms of where you fly.
“A lot of destinations around the world are opening up to private jets first – the Seychelles is a good example – so the ability to get to destinations that are inaccessible to others is attractive.”
So, where will the UK’s rich and famous be travelling this summer?
Kathy predicts it may be short haul rather than long haul, despite the temptation of the Seychelles.
“There’s no real limit to private jet travel – you can go 13 hours without even stopping for fuel! But what we expect is a boom in destinations closer to home,” she said.
“People who might have flown first class to the Maldives or Seychelles, for instance, may now choose to take their family and friends to Ibiza by private jet instead.
“We are seeing strong demand for Croatia, in particular, and we expect Dubai to feature more prominently in future, not just for UK clients but globally. Wealthy families in the Middle East often leave Dubai for the summer to get away from the heat and many of our clients have homes all around the globe and regularly travel between them.”
There’s no doubt it’s a glamorous world, but safety rather than exclusivity may prove to be the reason to take a private jet in summer 2020.
Kathy added: “Of course it’s a luxury industry – we look after musicians and pop stars, movie stars, footballers and television celebrities. But there are also a lot of business people using private jets just to get to work. Right now, for people who can afford a private jet, it feels like the safest way to get there. They don’t want to be in proximity to anyone else on their journey.”