NEW YORK, NY — Private jet travelers won’t see any changes to security procedures in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit last week, according to multiple officials with private jet operators who spoke to Elite Traveler. Heightened security for commercial flights from international destinations to the United States have resulted in delays ranging up to seven hours as well as some cancellations.
“Nothing official has been received industry-wide from the government,” according to a spokesperson from Jet Aviation, an operator of private jet terminals (FBOs) and provider of private jet charters, jet cards and management of private jets owned by companies and individuals.
While several executives of private jet companies believe the adverse publicity surrounding traveling on commercial airlines will help sales in 2010, “there were no marked increases in flight requests,” the Jet Aviation spokesperson added.
Instead, Winter storms combined with late travel plans and increased marketing efforts have spurred a spike in private jet flights over the Christmas holiday.
“We’ve had a very busy flying season for the holidays this year so it’s a bit hard to notice an increase due to just the Northwest flight issue, especially since weather has been driving last minute bookings pretty much everywhere,” Steve Hankin, CEO of private jet charter and jet card company Sentient Jet told Elite Traveler.
Security directives from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) due to expire December 30 added new limitations on cabin service and extra security screening.
Among the new policies being implemented is making passengers remain seated during the final hour of their flight and turning off inflight moving maps showing an aircraft’s location. The latter, according to various news reports has resulted in some flights operating without inflight entertainment, and combined with airport delays, making holiday family travel more difficult. Additional reports suggest some of the procedures may have been rescinded, however, consumers remained ill at ease about what to expect.
“That incident (the Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit) just reinforces the differences between private and commercial travel,” Woody Harford, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of CitationAir told Elite Traveler. However, he added, his company’s increase in business has been “a result of our relaunch more than any commercial incident.” In the Fall the operator changed its name from CitationShares to CitationAir by Cessna followed by a major marketing blitz.
Ricky Sitomer, CEO of BlueStar Jets, a charter broker of private jet flights and a seller of jet cards, said his company had seen a “huge increase because of the snowstorm.”
Delta AirElite Business Jets, a separate subsidiary of Delta Airlines, has seen demand climb. “We have seen an increase in holiday travel. We cannot directly attribute any of the increase to the commercial flight incident,” spokesperson Rebekah Biddle said.
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) spokesperson Dan Hubbard added, “If businesspeople need to travel from towns not served by the airlines; if they need to reach several destinations in a single day; or, if they need to transport items not easily delivered on the airlines, they may find that business aviation is the most prudent means of transport. These were the factors businesspeople took into account following the terrorist attacks of September 2001, and we believe the situation will remain the same in the months and years to come.”
Private jet travel saw a significant increase in November with a 22 percent year over year jump in flights according to industry tracking company ARGUS.