The COVID-19 pandemic has grounded flights and the travel industry in general but as things are slowly getting back to normal, what will the future of travel look like? Right now, whilst the gears are indeed starting to slowly turn, the latest FCO advice is that Brits are still not permitted to travel abroad and that all holidaying Brits must quarantine themselves for 14 days on returning home.
The airlines remain hopeful that the summer flight season will put them back in the black, with EasyJet, Ryanair British Airways all hoping to be operating at around 75% capacity by the end of August. But things remain uncertain as it stands and if there is a second peak of the virus then we could essentially be sent all the way back to square one.
What does the future hold?
In the short-term, coronavirus is going to almost completely change the way we travel by plane. Airports across the country and abroad will be implementing strict health screening procedures and tighter security measures. On the planes themselves, meanwhile, there will be changes made to seating in order to allow social distancing and there will be stringent cleaning programmes put in place.
There will also be a major increase in virtual queuing, with many airlines already testing apps that will allow passengers to board person-by-person, instead of section-by-section. Contactless, self-service technologies will also crucial in helping airlines to keep things safe as part of the ‘new normal’. It will be a very different environment for sure and it’s an environment that might not be particularly pleasant. Which is why we predict a major rise in private travel in the coming months and years.
The popularity of the private jet charter industry is bound to increase in the coming months, as wealthier individuals who had never considered it before begin to see the benefits of flying privately.
Global aircraft charter specialists Chapman Freeborn reiterated the potential in the private jet market, they said “The COVID-19 situation does provide an excellent opportunity for the general aviation business to tap into a whole new clientele; those who previously flew First and Business Class and are now willing to place a premium on their health and safety by flying privately, thus avoiding overcrowded airports and high-density commercial airliners.”
Indeed, for many private jet firms, bookings have already doubled or tripled as people start to plan their holidays for the summer and beyond in a world where COVID-19 is still a very real threat. Countries that have a plan to ease lockdown and open up for tourists have had a high demand already. Chapman Freeborn commented, “We have seen a rise in holiday charter requirements to fly to typical sunspot countries such as Portugal, Italy, Croatia and Greece.” They also went on to say, “Requests to fly to Spain and France will certainly also increase once their lockdown plans are announced.”
It’s a simple fact that private charters include fewer members of staff and fewer passengers so will by default be that much safer than even the most exclusive first-class flight. You will also be allowed to circumvent the busy airport terminals entirely, instead you’ll be leaving from a discreet private terminal where you’ll only have to interact with other private passengers and crew.
It’s going to be an interesting few months whilst we all adapt and figure out how to live and vacation in a world of social distancing and constant paranoia, but for those of us who can afford it, private travel could very well be the solution for safe, carefree flight.