DC area private jet travel is far up. Where are they going?

Private jet travel has always been a lifestyle for the rich and often famous, but most people who can actually afford to travel by private jet typically choose not to use it. The pandemic has changed that.

Private jet travel has always been a lifestyle for the rich and often famous, but most people who can actually afford to travel by private jet typically choose not to use it.

The pandemic has changed that.

“There has been a huge increase in interest in private aviation as a solution rather than commercial battles due to the pandemic, where people are looking for a safer and faster way to get around. The interest in our industry has been massive,” said Gregg Brunson-Pitts, founder of Arlington, Virginia-based private jet broker Advanced Aviation Team.



In the whole of 2021, there were 28,510 arrivals for regular aviation at Dulles Airport (and probably the same number of departures, or close to it), according to data provided by a private aviation transmitter compared to 19,390 arrivals for regular aviation in 2020. large decline in business travel due of the pandemic, a good portion of these flights were recreational.

Airline FlightAware, which tracks charter flights and timeshare flights such as NetJets and Jet Linx, but not private jet flights used exclusively by their owners or companies, noted an increase of more than 50% in takeoffs and landings at Dulles from December 2020 to December 2021.

Year-on-year percentage increase in general aviation at Reagan National Airport was the same last year, although private jet departures and arrivals to DCA are limited by requirements for a special TSA-issued and FAA-approved exemption, which requires multiple steps, and therefore most private flyers choose Dulles.

Advanced Aviation Team founder Greg Brunson-Pitts. (Courtesy Advanced Aviation Team)

Brunson-Pitts, a former director of the White House Travel Office, and his six-person retail company do not own or operate aircraft, but rather purchase available aircraft and customize the flight experience based on customer needs.

Advanced Aviation has seen a 40% increase in demand in each of the last two years for travelers in the DC area. And much of the increase has come from those who could afford but have never flown privately.

“The typical customer of the Advanced Aviation team has historically been more your typical DC-centric political and state customer. But with the pandemic, we have received different kinds of customers as families. People have just come out of the sidelines,” Brunson-Pitts said. .

Although there has been a huge increase in private jet travel among the new ones, the cost will probably never be comparable to flying on a commercial plane. But there are many factors that come into play in the price, including the day of travel, travel flexibility, the type of flight and whether the customer is looking for a luxurious experience with delicious catering or a barebones travel experience.

Depending on these factors, and how many passengers possibly share the expense, it may be closer to last-minute first-class commercial travel costs, though Brunson-Pitts said it was not possible to throw a few ballpark figures out because of everything. the variables.

The demand for private jets has meant an increase in sales for companies that manufacture them. Reston, Virginia-based General Dynamics saw its order backlog in its aerospace division in the fourth quarter of 2021 grow 40% year-over-year to $ 16.3 billion, led by the strongest order year for their Gulfstream jets since 2008.

So where are the well-to-do leisure travelers in the DC area heading for private charter flights?

“Destinations like Miami and the Caribbean, especially now in the winter months. Also, they travel to the mountains like Aspen for the ski season. And many times in the summer, we arrange charters for Nantucket and the Hamptons,” Brunson-Pitts said.

Leave a Comment