As the global travel industry ground to a halt amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and dozens of airlines were forced into bankruptcy, private-jet sales boomed.
In the U.S. alone, sales of preowned private jets climbed nearly 10% in 2020 from 2019 levels, with 1,637 jets sold in the country, according to analysis from broker Colibri Aircraft.
The U.S. accounts for more than 70% of the global preowned jet market, according to Colibri, with sales in the second-largest market — Europe — also climbing year-over-year in 2020.
Globally, the private-jet broker said that 2,227 preowned private jets were purchased in 2020 — a 7.7% increase on 2019 — representing a total value of more than $14.5 billion.
“The sale of preowned private aircraft has held up well because the benefits of flying privately have been clearly illustrated during the coronavirus crisis,” said Oliver Stone, the managing director of Colibri Aircraft.
“As the commercial aviation sector has been decimated, business aviation has held up relatively well, and it has welcomed many new people who have never flown privately before,” Stone added.
The broker said that the COVID-19 pandemic has crystallized the health risks associated with coming into close contact with many other people, as is the case on commercial airline flights, and drawn new buyers to the private market.
Colibri Aircraft cites European private-jet operator GlobeAir, which says there are nearly 700 fewer “touch points” and person-to-person interactions when flying by private jet compared with commercial aircraft.
The fewer interactions are due to factors including private-jet fliers being more likely to take private transit to the airport, as opposed to public transit, as well as private terminals being cleaned more thoroughly and more frequently than public terminals.
“Toilets there are much cleaner and used less,” the broker said.
And, of course, going private means fliers won’t be surrounded by dozens of other people potentially carrying infectious diseases.
More broadly, Colibri Aircraft said that corporate groups may be more attracted to flying privately because the regularity of less-popular routes may be pared down by commercial carriers feeling the financial weight of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc across the wider aviation sector since global travel all but ground to a halt more than a year ago. Dozens of commercial airlines have gone bankrupt and the remainder are bleeding cash.