Photo courtesy New Flight Charters
Air charter activity is up worldwide according to data and anecdotal reports. US and global economies are favorable and consumer sentiment is improving. Recent US tax law changes are providing incentive and resources for business growth in the US and helping fuel the upward trend of business aviation for 2018.
We will let the industry speak for itself; from 15 air charter companies, organizations and individuals- compiled here are their own results, projections and commentary on business now and looking forward.
Jason Middleton, CEO, Silver Air
From January 18 Forbes.com: “For us at Silver Air, the outlook for 2018 is great in pretty much all areas. We are seeing aircraft sales go up, aircraft charter volume is going up, and charter clients are stepping up in the size of aircraft as well. We are seeing a particularly strong upswing in the Super Mid category. Aircraft like the Citation X and Challenger 300 are in high demand for charter.
From company website and several online articles: (PrivateFly acquired US broker Bird Dog Jet in 2017) “PrivateFly has grown over 50% again in 2017, and we are looking to continue that growth path in 2018, in large part by U.S. expansion. We’ve grown both top line revenue and bottom line EBITDA as a profitable online platform in the digital space proving true viability. After opening our first US office in 2016, we’ve expanded our team with the recent takeover of Bird Dog Jet and received several new awards and accolades. These steps are just the beginning of our American growth, and we have big plans for 2018.”
Jamie Walker, President & CEO, Jet Linx Aviation
From January 18 Forbes.com: “Our Jet Card business is growing at a strong and steady pace as more individuals realize the need for private aviation both in their business and leisure travel. Our average growth rate over the past five years has been 30% or more for both revenue and flight hours. I expect that business growth and utilization will continue to grow at 30% or more in 2018.
Overall, we’re seeing tremendous opportunities for growth in 2018 and beyond and are looking to expand to new markets on the east and west coasts, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Salt Lake City and San Jose.”
New Flight Charters
Leading charter brokerage New Flight Charters announced in a national release about current jet charter trends and results: 12.5% increase in charter business overall lead by growth in midsize, super-midsize and heavy jets (+16%), and also turboprops (+18%) in that growing charter market segment. International charters increased by 40% in 2017, led by flights to the Caribbean and Mexico. Drivers to the growth included improved pricing options with floating fleets, personnel/service level, and increased repeat clients. January 2018, it reports, continued the same trends. The company offers the industry’s only “best price guarantee” for jet charter pricing and quotes.
Sergey Petrossov, CEO, JetSmarter
From January 18 Forbes.com: “Business is great. We grew over 100% in 2017 for revenue and over 150% in passengers flown. We expect to double again in size in 2018. For the market, we believe the sharing economy will consume private aviation all the way from aircraft ownership to single seat bookings, and consumers will use multiple biz jet solutions for their travel needs.”
Monarch Air Group
Monarch Air Group, an aircraft management company, charter operator and charter broker based in Texas and Florida, published predictions for 2018.
- New clients will experience flying private
- Charters will lead the business aviation growth
- Bitcoin as a payment method will be a must
- Diversification as the key to withstanding shaky economies
- Consolidation of the very light jet segment
ARGUS through AIN Online 2/5/18:
For the first quarter, Argus predicts a 5 percent jump in year-over-year business aircraft traffic. January will lead the gains with a 5.4 percent increase, with February and March up 4.8 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. Overall, business aircraft flights in the first quarter are expected to number 759,169.
Business aviation flights in the U.S. and Canada topped 3 million last year, reaching that mark for the first time since 2008, according to a 2017 Business Aircraft Activity Review released by Argus International. The 30-page review, which details Argus TraqPak flight activity data in 2017, reports that business aviation flights increased 3.9 percent overall and flight hours jumped 5.5 percent over 2016.
Year-over-year gains were posted in every month of 2017, Argus said, adding that the improvements were fairly consistent throughout the year. Activity in the first half of 2017 was up 3.9 percent over the same period in 2016, while activity in the second half of 2017 was up 3.8 percent.
Part 135 operations enjoyed the greatest gains, rising 9.2 percent last year. This improvement was driven by Part 135 large-cabin jet operations, which led all increases in 2017 with a 14.9 percent jump. Fractional flights ended the year up 4.7 percent, while Part 91 flights inched up 0.1 percent in 2017. Increased Part 91 large-cabin and midsize jet flights—up 2.9 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively—offset a slide in Part 91 light jet flights, down 0.7 percent, and turboprop flights, down 1.3 percent.
Joe Moeggenberg, CEO, ARGUS
From January 18 Forbes.com: “For the first time since 2008, flight activity reached over three million flights in 2017, an upward trend we expect to see into 2018 as our TRAQPak analysis forecasted flight activity for Q1 in 2018 to increase 5% year over year. In 2017, Part 135 activity saw the largest year over year operation category increase of over 9% and large cabin aircraft saw the largest year over year increase across the industry, up almost 15%.
Steve Orfali, CEO, Jetset Group Inc. and Wholesale Jet Club
From January 18 Forbes.com: “We believe 2018 will be another very strong year for our companies. Jetset Group saw a 30% increase in business in 2017, and we project about the same in 2018. The economy continues to flourish, and we are seeing more and more people shift to private jet travel as a result of it. I believe we will see some rising fuel prices in 2018, which could bring up the pricing on charters, but that’s why many people opt for our jet cards. They have guaranteed rates with no fuel surcharges.”
Stratos Jet Charter
Charter broker Stratos Jet Charter is calling for growth in charter, 5 trends for 2018:
- New aircraft models hitting the market in 2018
- Busy weekends for air traffic
- More air travelers become jet card program members
- Continued growth in charter market
Gary Hammes, President, Delta Private Jets
From January 18 Forbes.com: “Business is strong, and with current economic conditions and stock market patterns we are anticipating another record year in 2018. We continue to see strong demand for our product, especially in the corporate space. We expect to grow our charter business 15-20% and we expect a 20% increase in Jet Card sales. As 2018 progresses, we will continue to expand our fleet by about 15 aircraft to meet growth targets and demand. We are developing an enhanced jet card product, and we recently launched our Sky Access membership program which offers access to empty legs and fixed hourly rate private jet travel.”
ACI Jet is an FBO, aircraft manager and charter operator based in Southern California with a charter fleet of 11 midsize through ultra long range jets.
From article in Paso Magazine: “Known for its work as a Fixed Base Operator (FBO), ACI Jet has locations at airports in Orange County, Oceano, San Luis Obispo, and Paso Robles, but the company began when Bill Borgsmiller fueled his Piper Seneca III as the company’s first charter aircraft in 1998.
ACI Jet now employs 190 people, operates a fleet of private jet aircraft, and celebrates a banner year in 2017 with a 20-year anniversary and more growth in 2018.
“In this last year, one of the most exciting things is a new location in Orange County,” Borgsmiller said. “We are adding new aircraft to the fleet. There is big growth.”
In concert with the expansion at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, ACI Jet is building a 35,000-square-foot office complex, and an adjacent 25,000-square-foot hangar as its corporate headquarters on the grounds.”
Andrew Collins, CEO, Sentient Jet and Skyjet
From January 18 Forbes.com: “We had an incredibly strong year at both Sentient Jet and Skyjet. Each brand saw growth in many of our key-performance measurements. We moved into new headquarters, launched new products, and pushed our brand and partnership visibility up a few notches.
I feel relatively bullish on 2018 within the major client markets that we serve, especially those in the financial sector. We’re projecting significant growth at both brands and seek to continue to push into new product categories and client segments.
Lastly, it feels like a number of upstarts that pursued significant growth models will continue to have industry visibility. However, unlike perhaps the past few years, they will have to mature their models to meet investor requests and demands and provide real insight into how they will scale and how they plan on truly impacting the private aviation buying segment.”
Greg Raiff, CEO, Private Jet Services (PJS) Group
From January 18 Forbes.com: “Our corporate and leisure business was up year over year more than 100% when we compare 2016 to 2017. We expect that dynamic growth to continue in 2018, as the geometric increase in the number of private flyers globally, and the price efficiency of our solution gains broad recognition.”
Kenny Dichter, Founder and CEO, Wheels Up
From January 18 Forbes.com: “Wheels Up is celebrating its 5th anniversary in 2018. We expect another banner year and to exit with 6,000 active members and a $400 million run rate with over 100 aircraft. We took delivery of our first three Citation Xs so we are now a three airplane type fleet. Wheels Up is revenue growing at over 35% per year, and we expect that kind of growth rate moving forward.”
Sources: company announcements, press releases, articles, online media
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