Private Aviation Headwinds into Summer 2022

Written by Aaron Stein, Head of Flight Management 

Moving into the summer season and second half of 2022, official figures continue to report on record worldwide business jet movements, with the sector in some markets operating levels some 20% higher than in 2019. With increasing levels of activity, the industry is facing a range of unique challenges pertinent to global fleet saturation, workforce planning, and an increasingly volatile energy market exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, among other headwinds.

This is continuing to present an intriguing industry-wide challenge in satisfying unprecedented demand against unprecedented operational challenges across national borders and impacting all stakeholders. At Victor, we continue to monitor these operational conditions and how trends both within the industry and broader factors beyond it are continuing to impact on-demand jet charter provision and seek to communicate this transparently with our customers.

Some of today’s challenges we continue to monitor closely include:

Aircraft availability 

The surge in demand for business jets across all segments is saturating fleet availability with aircraft for peak travel periods often fully booked well in advance. For customers with shorter-term travel horizons, this is sometimes resulting in limited aircraft availability at short notice as well as a significant fluctuation in pricing as operators assess fleet capacity based on a continued drive to optimise their schedules. Fleet growth in future years may also be restrained with the main manufacturers competing to satisfy global demand, especially throughout the mature markets of North America and Europe.

Through consistent engagement with our key suppliers and through our instant, market-based offering, we are able to present the best possible aircraft solutions at any given time for your travel requirements, including the very latest additions to global fleets – allowing Victor members to capitalise on charter opportunities both at short notice, such as empty leg availability and into the future with operators able to present greater fleet flexibility. 

Fluctuation in charter pricing 

The well-reported increase in the cost of jet fuel, exacerbated by the current conflict in Ukraine, is continuing to adversely impact operator costs, applying upward pressure on charter pricing in the process. This is affecting the whole market and operators of varying scale, market presence and fleet composition, and presents an ongoing pricing challenge with variable costs in a constant state of change. Charter pricing is also influenced by fleet availability constraints as operators seek maximum aircraft utilisation amid unprecedented demand.  

As wider economic and geopolitical events unravel, we have a renewed impetus at VICTOR to track their impact on charter providers, fleets, and pricing within the on-demand marketplace and communicate this with our customers. 

Airport and FBO networks 

At Victor, you have open and transparent access to a global network spanning thousands of airports and FBO locations providing dedicated private jet solutions, whoever you fly with and on whichever aircraft you wish to use. As we enter the busy summer season, which sees many airports serving the most popular leisure destinations become increasingly congested, we continue to monitor and manage these on-ground constraints with our airport and ground handling partners around the world and ensure any critical information that may affect flight operations is communicated promptly with our customers. 

Some of the seasonal challenges we continue to face include airspace constraints leading to departure slot delays, airport ramp capacity and challenges with on-ground resourcing including ongoing Covid-19 impacts affecting the workforce. Smaller locations of a reduced operational scale are often most susceptible, such as many top Greek island destinations and smaller regional airports across Italy where we have seen more frequent disruption in recent weeks. Ongoing dialogue continues among industry stakeholders, including airports, their resident FBOs and charter operators, and Victor continues to monitor wider developments across our sector and pertinent impacts on jet charter operations with the aim of minimising operational disruption. 

Supplementary services 

In recent weeks, our Flight Management team have been in communication with some of our key service providers, notably in the ground transportation field, and feedback suggests the key players are facing challenges similar to our jet charter providers. We continue to experience difficulties in securing vehicles for onward travel at short notice with fleet growth also saturated by ongoing supply chain constraints. Should you wish to have services arranged for your departure or on arrival we recommend reaching out as early as possible, from where our team can assess all available vehicle options and, upon booking, coordinate a seamless travel journey. 

Further, catering providers are too battling tremendous demand with restricted supply and are seeking advance notice to ensure customer orders can be completed, prepared, and delivered to the aircraft in good time for your flight. Our relationships with independent and airport-based providers are proving valuable in facilitating orders however we again encourage advance indication to ensure all items are delivered to the respective FBO ahead of your departure. 

Sustainable operations 

Despite the ongoing headwinds, there remains an urgent need for concerted and sustained environmental action and a targeted approach to the sustainable growth of private aviation. Far from deviating from these issues, current events should further galvanise all stakeholders to transform positive thinking into tangible action, driving us towards Net Zero. At VICTOR we have since our inception taken a firm environmental stance underpinned by environmental action that is transparent and accountable. Building on our long-standing commitments to date, our recently announced pioneering partnership with NESTE – which brings Sustainable Aviation Fuel into the on-demand charter domain for the first time – acts as another key commitment to propel the evolution of how we operate. 

We hope to see the key stakeholder groups work together to facilitate this transition. Whether it be airports and their tenants diversifying their energy needs towards renewables, charter operators building increasingly modern, fuel-efficient fleets or ongoing efforts to modernise airspace design and operation, we have a collective responsibility and opportunity to make a difference. Throughout the coming months, as the sector traverses the current hurdles, we cannot lose sight of this pressing need for which we are all responsible.  

In Summary 

We continue to see a number of factors both internally within the industry and through a broader, external lens that continue to influence the day-to-day operation of the charter market. At Victor, you are best placed to best mitigate these challenges to align with your travel plans, courtesy of our specialist teams throughout your booking journey, both prior to securing an aircraft and subsequently via our dedicated Flight Management team– available to assist you throughout. We strive to use our strong and long-held cross-industry relationships to deliver an unparalleled service for our members to navigate these current challenges and will continue to provide open, honest, and transparent insight into their development in the coming months and beyond. 

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