SherpaReport recently caught up with Ian Moore, the Chief Commercial Officer at VistaJet. We talked through the changes that VistaJet has seen over the last year, the effect of COVID, expectations for 2021 and advice for anyone looking at private aviation.
During 2020 VistaJet saw an increase of 29% globally in new subscription “Program” memberships year-on-year. Europe accounted for 43% of new members, North America 25%, Asia 18% and the Middle East 10%. It was also a record year for VistaJet’s on demand services, with bookings growing at +15% year-on-year.
“We’re seeing people move to private jet travel” said Ian Moore, “VistaJet has been valuable to people that previously used commercial.” He noted that users in commercial first class tend to be older, and so more concerned about the coronavirus and this has certainly impacted the move to private aviation.
“The general trend, has been more and more people dipping their toe in to the private jet market,” he confirmed.
VistaJet has a variety of aircraft in its fleet of over 70 planes, from the super-mid size Challenger 350 up to ultra-long range aircraft. The newest addition is the brand-new Bombardier Global 7500.
This ultra-long range plane has four living spaces, and the VistaJet configuration offers a permanent private stateroom suite. With a range of 7,700 nautical miles and a top speed of mach 0.925 it can comfortably fly from New York to Hong Kong or Singapore to San Francisco in one trip.
“We are very excited about the range, cabin, characteristics and speed,” said Ian, and simply added “It is quick and more efficient.” He noted that VistaJet plans to add more of these aircraft in 2021 as the world starts to open up again.
Offices Around World
VistaJet has always positioned itself as a very global company and the numbers speak for themselves. The company says it has flown to over 1,900 airports in 187 countries worldwide, “unlocking access to 96% of the world” and some of the most hard-to-reach areas in a single flight.
“We are truly a global company, with offices and flights around the world” remarked Ian, “this allows us to keep up with changes as rules alter and has been a real differentiator. We can get clients in to tough to reach places.” Certainly, in this current COVID environment, the travel and access rules have been changing all the time in different countries, so having the local knowledge will definitely help.
Commenting on the VistaJet model, Ian noted “VistaJet offers a true alternative to whole ownership” adding “companies may not want to be seen to own planes. They don’t want to be visible, or were looking at buying but don’t fly 400-500 hours per year.”
“The fleet is owned by us,” he continued, “and the fact that we have a fleet globally that can move around has been appealing.”
In the middle of last year VistaJet launched its Private World travel program. This leverages its relationships to provide customers with a bespoke travel experience, from pre-flight to flight and accommodation, with preferred services already lined up at the destination. The ultimate locations include partner yachts, hotels, private islands and retreats all over the world.
The Private World program offers a variety of plans and ideas – “it starts a conversation” said Ian, “and then it’s tailored as required.” He noted customers are asking VistaJet “Where can I go that’s safe?” and often add something along the lines of “I do need to get away.”
This year the program has added even more options. Ian stated “we are increasing the number of partnerships to help accelerate the whole sector’s path to recovery. As consumers continue to be burdened with complicated travel restrictions, they look for simple solutions they know are safe and reliable. Collaboration between the best mobility and hospitality players on the ground provides not only peace of mind, but also the high-quality service and impeccable standards our customers have come to expect. I continue to be optimistic for the long-term growth and opportunities of the sector.”
The destinations may be leisure locations such as Courchevel, Maldives, The Bahamas, Aspen, Fiji or world cities such as London, New York, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Dubai, Milan, Nice, Beijing, Shanghai and Moscow.
For anyone flying privately, Ian Moore starts his advice with “know what you are flying and buying,” adding “know about the aircraft, the operator and their track record.”
Some of the more specific points he makes on this topic include:
- Know which locations you want to fly to and the experience of the operator in going to those locations.
- Know about their safety record.
- Know what COVID protocols they have in place.
- Know the reputation, track record and experience of the company.
- Know whether you are working directly with an operator or with a broker. (as an editorial note, there’s no one right answer here, both can offer value, depending on what you are looking for.)
- Learn about availability, if you want to or need to change your travel plans.
- Overall do some research.
His ending comment is “value is the key” and says people should ask themselves “what do I value?” Prices in private aviation can vary, sometimes by quite a bit, so if there is a difference in price, Ian encourages people to ask and look into “why is that.”
Ian Moore says he and VistaJet are cautiously optimistic for 2021. He’s expecting people to fly less, (than historic levels), but also expects them to spend more on those flights, because people do want to travel and want to do it safely.