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Wealthy turning to private jets to escape coronavirus outbreak | Business | The Guardian

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Big businesses and wealthy people are chartering private jets for “evacuation flights” out of countries hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Adam Twidell, the chief executive of the private jet booking service PrivateFly, said the company had been inundated with requests from multinational firms arranging the mass evacuation of staff from China and south-east Asia.

Twidell said rich families were also chartering private jets to reduce the risk of exposing their families to the virus by avoiding commercial flights and busy airports.

“Over the past few weeks, there’s undoubtedly been a rise in demand for short notice on-demand charter relating to the coronavirus Covid-19,” he said. “We’ve had a very significant number of inquiries for group evacuations and from corporates and individuals.

“Initially, inquiries were focused on evacuations from south-east Asia and other affected areas. But, increasingly, we are now seeing clients looking to take a private flight between a variety of global destinations, to avoid exposure to crowds in [commercial] cabins and airport terminals.

“In many cases, these are passengers who don’t usually fly by private aviation but are looking to protect themselves, their families and employees.”

Twidell said his firm arranged for a jet to transport a Hong Kong-based family to Bali because they were worried about “exposure on [a commercial] flight”.

He said it was just one example of a wealthy family who would usually use commercial flights choosing to book a private jet to reduce risk of the virus.

“Each aircraft is equipped with a protective healthcare and sanitary equipment kit for passengers and crew, should it be required,” Twidell said. “The health of crew members is being monitored very closely, including temperature checks before every flight.”

The charter flight company Victor was recently asked by a Hollywood film studio to fly about 50 people from Tokyo to Los Angeles, to limit their interaction with other travellers, according to Bloomberg.

The number of private jet flights from Hong Kong to Australia and North America in January jumped 214%, compared with the previous year, according to data from the business aviation monitoring company WingX.

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