Although countries are beginning to open their borders, wealthy people are avoiding travelling via commercial airline by booking private jets to reduce the chance of them catching coronavirus. Jenny Southan reports

Jet charter company PrivateFly says that compared to 2019, it has seen an 85 per cent rise in inquiries over the past two weeks, as “Germaphobia” (a trend identified by Globetrender in its recent report) grips the travelling public.

According to PrivateFly, the Covid-19 pandemic is set to see more travel companies arranging private jets for clients in the coming months, with a surge in requests from travel trade partners such as Virtuoso, Advantage Travel, Black Tomato and Ten Group.

Hannah Needs, PrivateFly’s head of partnerships, says: “With travel restrictions easing in much of Europe from June 15we are very busy indeed with inquiries from travel agents, concierges and yacht brokers

“They are telling us their clients are desperate to get away but are reluctant to fly on airlines until the risk of Covid-19 has reduced significantly particularly those with families, or those who are older or in higher risk groups. Agents are increasingly looking at private aviation as a solution, so holidays can go ahead safely and with peace of mind.”

Sentient Jet in the US has observed a similar trend. Of the more than 5,000 private jet hours the company sold since the beginning of April, over 50 per cent came from new customers. At the same time, inquiries for flight quotes have risen by 241 per cent since the March low point thanks to the “readiness of new clients to commit to private aviation as a trusted resource”.

Challenger private jet Needs says: “Private jet travel is obviously more expensive than airlines but for clients prepared to spend more, it offers far greater control over your environment, both in the air and on the ground. You share the cabin only with your own group; and avoid the busy main airport, moving through a small and uncrowded private terminal instead.

“Additional measures are in place to protect private jet passengers even further, including deep cleaning and disinfection before every flight, and new service protocols such as avoiding handshakes with crew.

PrivateFlys prices start from £6,500 to £7,000 one-way for a six-seater light jet such as a Nextant 400XTi, on a short trip such as London to Nice. Or from £18,500 for a 13-seat Legacy 600, from London to Ibiza.

Needs says: “At PrivateFly we‘ve worked with the travel trade for many years, as our technology and 24-hour expert team make it much easier for agents to provide rapid and transparent quotes for accredited private jet charter, with full support and account management

“We work mainly wittravel companies serving the luxury and corporate segments, but recent inquiries are also coming from those who haven’t booked private jets before and are now keen to offer thisWhat’s more, with airline commission rates declining in recent years, it’s also an attractive revenue opportunity at a challenging time.

We’re predicting a growing proportion of our flights to be referred by travel partners in the months aheadWith travel now a more complex consideration for many people, the role of the travel agent as a trusted adviser has never been more important.

Luxury travel company Kuoni has responded to this by launching online video-call consultations with its in-house travel agents to help anxious travellers book holidays abroad.

What’s coming next? Trend reports available to download HERE

Travel in the Age of Covid-19

Globetrender Future of Luxury Travel Forecast 2020-2025

Globetrender Gen Z Horizons 2020 report