As private jet hire continues to soar in the wake of the pandemic, Etihad, previously unconcerned with charter activities, has seen its revenues boosted by a new agile approach to lending out its fleet. Anyone interested in chartering one of the airline’s 787 Dreamliners or A320s can now fill in a form on Etihad’s website and receive a quote within 24 hours.
Sizeable revenue contribution
As part of a pandemic-inspired agile approach to network and route planning and fleet utilization, Etihad Airways is offering customers the opportunity to take its Boeing 787s and Airbus A320s out for private charter. Requests for bookings can be made directly via the airline’s website. Etihad will then come back to the interested party with a price within 24 hours.
In an exclusive interview this week, Etihad’s CEO Tony Douglas said that the carrier’s charter activity, previously non-existent, has become a significant asset to the airline’s business model.
“Our charter market has gone from being nothing because in the past, of course, Etihad didn’t do that, to now being quite a sizeable contribution to revenues,” Mr Douglas stated during his chat with Simple Flying’s managing editor Joanna Bailey on Tuesday.
Both passenger and freight options
The airline began pursuing its new revenue charter source last year in the face of a prolonged lack of recovery for the passenger market. Options exist for both passenger, cargo-only, and combined freight and passenger flights.
At the time of the announcement of the new service, Alex Featherstone, vice president of network planning and alliances at Etihad, stated to the National News that,
“While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the commercial aviation industry, charter flights provide a convenient alternative to travel, providing customers with the flexibility to choose the departure time, destination and routing.”
Mr Featherstone later added that Etihad was very keen to make sure that this kind of flying would build strongly and that it should be a significant contributor to the carrier’s bottom line.
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The boom of the private jet market
Private jet hire has thrived due to the impact of COVID-19 travel restrictions. As networks shrunk to a bare minimum and non-stop routes were canceled, those with means sought other ways of getting from point A to point B with the least amount of hassle.
Health concerns and the potential for onboard social distancing have also played a major part in the industry’s boom, with private jet charter companies advertising their services as ‘COVID safe.’
Once a privileged form of travel only sought by the very wealthy and A-list celebrities, private jet hire has become increasingly common among groups of friends and families over the past year. Companies such as American operator Set Jet is offering private jet hire for as little as under $500. Meanwhile, your own personal Dreamliner may come with a slightly heftier price tag.
However, the next father-in-law’s 70th birthday trip could very well take place with a whole bunch of relatives tucked into a flag carrier narrowbody – on your own schedule and to your destination of choice.