After Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were criticized for using environmentally harmful private jets to go on vacation, the couple vowed that they would always fly commercial “unless advised otherwise on security grounds.”
But the Duke and Duchess of Sussex may have “security grounds” for using private jets again — including for borrowing private planes from famous friends like Elton John. That reason is COVID-19, the virus that has killed more than 3,100 people globally and sickened 93,000, including 51 in the United Kingdom.
Indeed, private jet travel is booming — and not just for the super-rich — as the spread of coronavirus has raised people’s fears about being in venues and spaces crowded with others, TMZ is reporting. People are flocking to private jet and charter plane brokerage companies, looking to avoid the closed-in, cattle-car environment of an average commercial plane.
Meghan and Harry are due to attend several events in London this week to close out their careers as senior members of the royal family. The couple opted to leave their 9-month-old son Archie in their new home in Canada during their U.K. trip, with the Daily Express reporting that they may have been concerned about exposing him to coronavirus.
Perhaps the couple will make use of a private plane when they fly home to British Columbia. Right now, they wouldn’t be alone in choosing this travel option, which is usually sought by people seeking more private, luxury accommodations.
“We’re seeing a 300-percent increase (in business) — even as early last night,” Richard Zaher, founder of New York City-based Paramount Business Jets, told TMZ. Paramount offers private jet flights to and from any major city in the world, and has access to 4,000 of “the world’s safest and most luxurious private jets.” The company’s crews have recently been involved in transporting people out of coronavirus hot spots like Hong Kong and Macau.
“There’s a lot of people inquiring about private jets — even people who can’t quite afford it,” Zaher added. The cost to rent a private jet ranges from $2,000 to $10,000 per billable flight hour, according to Paramount’s website. Zaher and representatives from other companies say inquiries have started to come in from “Main Streeters,” people they wouldn’t classify as super wealthy.
“We’re definitely seeing an influx of clients, for sure,” Kyle Jones, a senior aviation adviser at Orlando, Florida-based Stratos Jet Charters, Inc., told TMZ. Stratos historically arranges for jets to fly celebrities and other high-rollers in and out of Teterboro and Miami airports.
But Jones said “requests have gone up in the past couple weeks due to the coronavirus, and not necessarily with our regular fliers, but with people who maybe don’t have the money, and don’t normally fly private.”
Jones said that many of the requests come from executive assistants at companies asking about how much it would cost to fly their bosses to business meetings.
Meanwhile, JSX, a regional airline company that offers short-haul flights between California, Arizona, Nevada of Washington, has begun to employ “intense sterilization techniques” on its planes, according to Angela Vargo, a company representative.
Vargo told TMZ the company also was stocking up on hand-sanitizers and other products. However, she said JSX, like everyone else, is dealing with retailers selling out products.