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Clear skies ahead for private aviation

Charter operators are focusing on evolution and innovation

Unsplash/Chris Leipelt
The global private jet market is set to reach $38.34 billion by 2029

Last year in business was anything but ordinary. The unnerving combination of war, inflation, energy scarcity and climate change were not what anyone expected as life was just beginning to move forward from the Covid-19 pandemic.

But 2022 also proved to be a year of resilience. 

The private charter business witnessed a record year in 2021, and demand was higher still in 2022. To put things in perspective – the global private jet market size was valued at $24.21 billion in 2020, but is now forecast to grow from $29.03 billion in 2022 to $38.34 billion in 2029, at a rate of approximately 4 percent per annum.

While commercial aviation struggled to get back on its feet after the pandemic, the demand for business aviation soared.

This is despite rising fuel prices, geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties. Private charter operators, for their part, are focusing on evolving and innovating every aspect of their services and providing the very best value to clients in the future to counter emerging setbacks. 

In the Middle East, the rising number of high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals and corporate clientele contributed to the growth in private charter services in 2022. 

Given that business aviation provides flyers with more flexibility, time efficiency and extended reach, the demand is expected to remain high this year.

Flyers may have previously avoided private flights due to the high cost, but the increased safety, hygiene and ease of travel has convinced many that charter flights may be well worth the money.

Instead of waiting in long queues and putting up with travel delays and chaos, flyers can enjoy a more exclusive experience, with minimal contact with other people. 

To cater to the growing demand, regional operators expanded their networks in 2022 or added new routes, offering more competitive private flights and group fares, as well as more experiential itineraries.

Charter operators are expanding globally and constantly honing their services to cater to clients’ individual preferences. This is set to make private charters a more customised proposition.

In fact, many operators are now gearing their marketing efforts to attract more HNWIs and groups.

Meanwhile, the anticipated growth in tourist volumes is prompting many airports in the region to upgrade facilities, including dedicating more space for charter flights.

According to the UNWTO Tourism Barometer, Saudi Arabia has emerged as the fastest-growing tourism destination in the G20, with a 121 percent increase from pre-pandemic international tourism levels. The UAE’s tourism revenues crossed US$5.17 billion in the first half of 2022. 

Big-ticket events such as the Expo 2020 in Dubai and the recently concluded Fifa World Cup 2022 are prime examples of where private aviation can meet the demand for exclusive travel.

As more hospitality and tourism projects take root and the region attracts large-scale international events, the private aviation industry in the GCC is poised for strong growth. 

The challenge will be for operators to leverage the short term success to ensure sustained growth in the coming years.

The private aviation industry will have to iron out challenges that range from aircraft delivery delays to labour shortages and concerns around sustainability to navigate clear skies over the next 12 months.

Dmitriy Korshunov is CEO of Delta World Charter (DWC)

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