August 3, 2020 – Jung Sky, a Zagreb-based airline company operating in private, business and charter flights since 2009, is seeing a record summer thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
Slobodna Dalmacija writes that while commercial airlines were absent on the Adriatic, this air gap has been filled by small private and business planes whose number of landings and takeoffs with tourists is expressed in hundreds per day at all airports on the Adriatic.
Usually, small private or business planes rented for transportation belong exclusively to the world of jet-setters, millionaires, wealthy athletes, and business people, which is peculiar that so many were coming to Croatia today. However, during the corona era, where travelers are looking to avoid close contact with other passengers, privacy is critical – and air taxis have become king.
Moreover, the coronavirus, which has caused trouble to almost everyone involved in anything related to travel, has brought new clients to business aviation. Demand is at very high levels, and more often than not, they are hitting record numbers. Currently, the sales department of air taxi companies receives up to 300 inquiries per plane per day!
Recently, the BBC World News reported on a record increase in the number of passengers who opted for this service for the first time this year, after the pandemic. The situation is no different in Croatia – and Zagreb-based “Jung Sky”, which boasts two planes, recorded the best business results in June and July in the 10-year history of the company.
“After the number of flights dropped by more than 80 percent in April, in May the decline was halved, and the rush for the summer was slowly catching up,” says Kresimir Vlasic, Jung Sky’s director of operations.
June hit substantial numbers, and July is on the verge of the most successful month in the company’s history. Due to the excellent isolation conditions when traveling by private plane, in June and July, the pandemic also affected the profile of passengers.
“The dominance of business travelers is smaller, and this year a significantly larger number of tourists are flying with us than usual. Everyone is thinking about epidemiological issues and they see the right answer to their fears in our service. All indicators show that the current clientele has remained faithful to this service, but a significant percentage of passengers are using our services for the first time, and are determined to use us in the future. Traveling privately, with family and people you know well, is the epidemiologically simplest and most acceptable option, and the problem of lack of regular or insufficiently frequent airlines or congested roads is completely eliminated,” Vlasic believes.
Drazen Gros, head of the operations center, said that there are different profiles of passengers using this type of service. They are most often top and middle management on business trips, families on family trips, individuals going on various business, sports or music occasions, musicians, athletes or actors, and experts of various profiles that companies send to perform specialist jobs.
There are many reasons to rent business aircraft, from organizing travel according to your needs and schedule, to saving on travel time and avoiding changing planes. There is, of course, the possibility of traveling to more than one destination, greater security and privacy during the trip, the possibility of direct arrival to smaller places that are weakly or not at all connected by regular lines and savings on travel costs in cases where more people travel. Tourist reasons are most dominant during the summer when the number of inquiries for Mediterranean destinations, including Croatia – grows,” said Gros.
When asked if this is exclusively a deep-pocket clientele, i.e., the rich and famous, he added:
“No, it’s prejudice. Extremely wealthy people have their own planes that cannot be put in the same category as our planes in terms of value. Just as road taxi transport has its advantages over public transport and is used by both private and business users, so air taxi transport has its advantages over regular transport. Sometimes, by using regular lines for a three-day trip, two days would be spent only on transportation, and by using a business plane, passengers travel to a meeting on the same day and return home,” explains Gros.
Since such planes travel to Croatia almost exclusively by foreigners, which Croatian passengers are using these services? The interlocutors revealed that it is mainly the business community and senior management that use the services of small business aircraft due to the need for business meetings. The range of these aircraft is about 2500 kilometers, and it is possible to reach most destinations in Europe and North Africa without stopping.
So, how much does it all cost?
“The price of the service is calculated according to the total number of flight hours in the rotation ordered by the client, which includes the flight from the base in Zagreb to the destination where we pick up passengers, then the flight to their desired destination, return flight if requested by the passenger and our return to base. Prices vary by season, and some of the variables can be airport costs, use of the VIP lounge and the like. Our prices are between 1,800 and 2,200 euro per hour of flight, regardless of how many passengers are on the plane, and the planes have a capacity of six seats. The total cost of the flight is related to the total duration of the flight, and additional costs that vary from airport to airport, regardless of whether it is a return or one-way flight,” said Jung Sky, which is one of about 500 such operators in Europe.
Business aviation makes up only 8 percent of the total air traffic in Europe, where there are operators that fly with only one aircraft, but mostly it is about two, five, or even a few dozen aircraft in the fleet. And they all provide passengers with a pleasant flight, whether it is a light “piston” aircraft or a large jet aircraft weighing more than 400 tons. In most cases, air taxi companies in Europe work with aircraft with a capacity of up to ten seats.
Unfamiliar with altitude and aviation topics, one might first wonder if turbulence in small business planes is greater and more frequent than in large planes that seem safer because they are, well, large. But air taxi companies argue the opposite. Namely, compared to regular commercial aviation aircraft flying at altitudes of 10-11 km, business aircraft fly at altitudes of 13,000 to 13,500 meters, so they are pleasant flights because turbulence at such altitudes is a very rare occurrence, and speed flight is up to 800 km / h.
Thus, the coronavirus pandemic, which brought so much trouble to the entire tourism and service sector and especially to the travel industry, has led to an increase in demand for business aircraft.
“This is partly because a large number of scheduled airlines have been canceled, while another key reason is the fear of traveling in large groups. The only things that have a strong impact on our traffic are the necessity of going to quarantine after arriving in a country and restrictions at airports. If April is not repeated this year, the future of business aviation is definitely bright, especially due to epidemiological issues. Traveling on a business plane not only solves the issue of staying in a cabin with strangers, but the service from start to finish allows a high degree of (self) isolation and flexibility. No waiting for a flight at airports, no standing in lines for check-in or control. It passes through a special general aviation terminal, you board the flight literally five minutes before takeoff, and the whole experience can be passed without any physical contact with other people,” Jung Sky concluded.