Home finance Private jet bookings soar as wealthy flee second England lockdown

Private jet bookings soar as wealthy flee second England lockdown

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Wealthy people in England are booking private jets to escape the lockdown set to be introduced on Thursday, according to jet brokers.

Air Partner, one of the biggest aircraft charter firms, said there had been a “sharp rise” in private jet bookings out of the country before Thursday.

The company, which supplies planes to Premier League footballers, celebrities, the royal family and six of the eight governments in the G8, said it had been overwhelmed with inquiries.

New national restrictions are due to come into effect in England on Thursday, after MPs vote on them, and remain in place at least until 2 December.

What can I leave home for?

  • For childcare or education, where it is not provided online.
  • To go to work unless it can be done from home.
  • Outdoor exercise either with household members or with one person from another household.
  • For all medical reasons and appointments.
  • To escape injury or harm, such as domestic abuse.
  • To provide care for vulnerable people or volunteer.
  • To shop for food and essentials.
  • To see people in your support bubble.
  • Children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated.

Government say the list is not exhaustive, and other permitted reasons for leaving home may be set out later. People could face fines from police for leaving their home without a legally permitted excuse.

Can different households mix indoors?

No, not unless they are part of an “exclusive” support bubble, which allows a single-person household to meet and socialise with another household.

Parents are allowed to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under.

Can different households mix outdoors?

People are allowed to meet one person from another household socially and for exercise in outdoor public spaces, which does not include private gardens.

Can I attend funerals, weddings or religious services?

Up to 30 people will still be allowed to attend funerals, while stone settings and ash scatterings can continue with up to 15 guests.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are not permitted except in “exceptional circumstances”. Places of worship must remain closed except for voluntary services, individual prayer and other exempt activities.

Can I travel in the UK or abroad for a holiday?

Most outbound international travel will be banned. There is no exemption for staying away from home for a holiday. This means people cannot travel internationally or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions.

Which businesses will close?

Everything except essential shops and education settings, which include nurseries, schools and universities, will close.

Entertainment venues will also have to close. Pubs, restaurants and indoor and outdoor leisure facilities will have to close their doors once more.

However, takeaway and delivery services will still be allowed, while construction and manufacturing will stay open.

Parents will still be able to access registered childcare and other childcare activities where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work. Some youth services may be able to continue, such as one-to-one youth work, but most youth clubs will need to close their doors.

Public services, such as jobcentres, courts, and civil registration offices will remain open.

There is no exemption for grassroots organised team sports. Elite sports will be allowed to continue behind closed doors as currently, including Premier League football matches.

Aaron Walawalkar

“Many of these flight inquiries are for individuals wishing to go to their second homes in Europe, with the Canary Islands, which are still warm at this time of year, being the most sought-after destination,” the company said.

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“We do expect to continue to see some demand for private jet flights during the rest of the month for business travel, particularly as many commercial flights become grounded and unavailable.”

The new lockdown in England, expected to come into force on Thursday, will ban residents in England from travelling abroad except for essential work until at least 2 December.

Air Partner said it would cost about £24,000, one way, for five people to depart from Biggin Hill to Tenerife before lockdown.

Commercial airlines have dramatically reduced their flight schedules in anticipation of an even greater fall in demand for international travel, which has been moribund since the pandemic began.

However, private jet operators have reported a much smaller decline in bookings. The operators say this is because the super-rich have continued to travel as much as before.

In addition, more moderately wealthy people are seeking out private jets as they view it as a safer way to travel during the pandemic because it avoids potentially crowded commercial planes and airport terminals.

Private jet operators also reported a rise in bookings before the first UK-wide lockdown in March. They also marketed “evacuation flights” out of countries badly hit by the virus.

The number of private flights dipped by just 10% between 1 September and 15 October compared with last year, according to the aviation consultancy WINGX. That compares with a more than 50% drop in scheduled commercial flights.

Richard Koe, the managing director of WINGX said: “Business aviation demand has been considerably more resilient than commercial airline activity throughout the pandemic, with a really strong rebound in last summer as travel restrictions got lifted.

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“That recovery has relapsed this autumn as leisure demand has tails off and business travellers stay home, but the latter could pick up as economies recover. The advantages of flying private, notably hygiene control and convenience, should continue to draw some customers from the airlines.”

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Oliver Stone, the managing director of the private jet brokerage firm Colibri Aircraft, said: “Covid-19 has also resulted in an increase in enquiries from potential first-time buyers of business aircraft as the crisis has helped raise the profile and benefits of flying privately amongst those who can afford to do this.

“For many business owners and executives, travel is a necessary component to keep their business running. The use of private aviation is now often the only way to continue to travel and keep their companies operational.”

Private jets emit about 20 times more carbon dioxide per passenger mile than commercial flights, according to industry data.



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