Bizjet Shortage Prompts ‘Private Jet Rage’


Adding to the list of COVID-19-related shortages, CNBC is reporting that there aren’t enough business jets to go around. The network says a trifecta of factors, including an uptick in private travel by COVID-conscious wealthy travelers, an uptick in suddenly wealthy people able to afford private air travel and a shortage of both used and new aircraft, is fueling “private jet rage.” 

Sentient Jet told the network that it’s stopped selling jet cards and NetJets says it’s not taking any more customers for its smaller aircraft. “The vast number of flights is taxing the air travel infrastructure in ways we haven’t seen in years,” the company said. CNBC said Argus International reported that July was the busiest month ever for private jet flights (more than 300,000) and it expects October to beat that record, even though it’s usually part of the off-season for private travel.

Those who manage to book flights are sometimes not getting the regal treatment they expect. Cancellations, delays and operational issues that many private travelers use business aviation to avoid are becoming a factor thanks to pilot shortages and a lack of parts for repairs. Even catering is taking a hit and it’s created some disappointed clients. “Say you’ve got a client who ordered Belvedere vodka and the caterer couldn’t only get Grey Goose,” Doug Gollan, founder of Private Jet Card Comparisons, told CNBC. “So the customer gets on the plane and he’s ticked off that he’s paying all this money and saying ‘why didn’t I get my Belvedere vodka?’”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. the sophisticated user knows the high cost of jet travel is the vehicle’s acquisition cost, operating cost, and employee/personnel costs, not the vodka (as if one can tell the difference between vodkas blindfolded).

  2. Just part of the business. You can’t make promises and not follow through. For the amount of money these flights cost, having a client want a particular brand of booze is not unusual. I deal with issues like this all the time in my job. Fortunately my boss and the company owners are pretty good at filtering out clients who make unreasonable and sometimes dangerous demands of the flight crew, or that take out their dissatisfactions on the flight crew. Most of these clients didn’t all of a sudden get rich and start using private flight companies or charter. Most of them are sick and tired of the airline hassle and the COVID restrictions just pushed those with money to start utilizing private charter. Others are business types who need to go to those airport locations that the airlines don’t service or do not have non-stop flights to. As I have said many times over the past 18 months my company’s charter business has exploded to the point that we also are not taking on any more new clients for a while. My company is hiring new pilots and are still slowly and carefully adding more airplanes to the managed fleet.

  3. A first world problem if there ever was one but it’s easy to see how rage induced by dealing with the government (surrounding and independent of Covid restrictions) can get to anyone.

  4. If you think private citizens are a potential pain in the rear for non-pubic air transportation, you should ask a military person who has had to deal with political “royalty” traveling on government aircraft. My sister was once in charge of scheduling the government fleet out of Andrews AFB for everyone who used government aircraft. The attitude and demands of the likes of the Clintons, AlGore, and many others to the present were hostile, demeaning, just plain nasty. Many of these “public servants” truly believe they are royalty and must be treated as such. Things like demanding that structural aircraft compartments and and doors be changed based upon their personal preferences, to having to change wall photographs depending upon who was traveling were common issues that required a bird colonel to address, so demanding were the elected “royals”. Any regular paying customer would be preferable to the true butt wipes in government. And I can tell you from experience that the government aircraft such as the Gulfstreams and Air Force 2s are nicer than most charter planes.

    • I’ll second that story.

      I once had an interface with a young officer who was flying a certain House Speaker back and forth from Washington to San Francisco. EVERY WEEK !! He told me that she was demanding the finest food and drink and was busting their budget for such items. Beyond that, she was hauling all sorts of family and friends who would not normally otherwise be even able to fly on those VIP jets. Meanwhile, on the streets of The City … watch out where you step, common man !!

  5. …Meanwhile…Back at the ranch… Smirnoff gazed out the window at the moon through the clouds..and wept…