Coronavirus: Private jets see 300% spike in demand as people avoid virus-hotspot commercial planes
'There's a lot of people inquiring about private jets — even those who can’t quite afford it'
Fears over the spread of the coronavirus are prompting more and more people to turn towards private jets, regardless of the price, to fulfill their traveling needs while simultaneously avoiding hotspots like commercial airplanes.
COVID-19, which originated in China's Wuhan, has now infected more than 93,000 people worldwide and resulted in 3,204 deaths, prompting a sort of mass panic amongst citizens in many countries.
While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued advisories asking people to take easy precautions such as rigorously washing their hands and not touching their face and eyes, it seems some are willing to take more drastic steps.
Paramount Business Jets, a worldwide brokerage company with access to over 15,000 certified jets, has reportedly seen an influx of requests for their aircraft after the virus began making the rounds.
"We're seeing a 300% increase — even as early last night," revealed Richard Zaher, a spokesperson for Paramount. "There's a lot of people inquiring about private jets — even people who can’t quite afford it."
Paramount has chartered its jets to whisk passengers out of COVID-19 hotspots like Hong Kong and Macau, and their crew and pilots sport full coveralls to protect themselves. They are also quarantined after landing back in the US and are given hazard pay for their risks.
A senior aviation adviser at Stratos Jet Charters, Inc., which serves as a middleman to 100 private jet operators who fly in and out of celebrity hubs like Teterboro and Miami, shared that the increased number of requests for private jets were coming from not just wealthy people either.
"We’re definitely seeing an influx of clients, for sure," said Kyle Jones. "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."
However, the majority of requests are still coming from executive assistants, considering the prices for seats on these jets start at an eye-watering $7,000.
Angela Vargo, a representative for JSX, which prides itself as a "hop on jet service," said they are noticing an increased demand for tickets on their 30-seater 23 Embraer 135 or 145 model planes.
She said she couldn't be sure it was because of the coronavirus, but conceded it was an attractive option for the same reason. She also revealed the company was rolling out intense sterilization techniques and stocking their jets with the appropriate precautions. "We have big drums of hand sanitizer in all of our stations — interestingly the reorder is getting challenging because distributors are selling out," she said.