New York Post reports Private jet surge after Trump’s travel ban.
The phone started ringing off the hook early Thursday at Swiss-based private jet company LunaJets, with desperate Americans on the other end of the line willing to pay big bucks to get home.
LunaJets said the company had been inundated with requests since 5 am Thursday after US President Donald Trump imposed a 30-day travel ban on most of Europe.
Just hours after the World Health Organization classified the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, Trump suspended people from 26 European countries from traveling to the US for a month as he responded to mounting pressure to take action against the spread of the COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus SARS-CoV-2.
Officials later clarified the ban would exclude US citizens and legal permanent residents and their families.
“We had a 30 percent increase in the level of inquiries just yesterday alone. Today it’s been nonstop since Trump’s announcement,” said Eymeric Segard, CEO of LunaJets.
Private jet companies in London and Europe are seeing a surge in demand as wealthy passengers, company executives, entertainers and sports teams race to find ways to fly to the US before Trump’s ban kicks in at midnight on Friday.
Alain Leboursier, LunaJets’ head of sales, said he had already sold 30 contracts on Thursday, 11 of which were “go-nows” — a term used for people who want to travel instantly. “We have a plane flying to Austin in 15 minutes and one to Memphis tomorrow,” he told MarketWatch in a telephone interview.
And passengers are paying big bucks to get to their destinations. Flying private from London to northeastern cities in the US would cost between $90,000 and $120,000 for a Super Large Jet or Long Range Jet, seating 12 to 14 passengers, according to LunaJets.
Leboursier said the company was filling out more forms and asking for more information from passengers and crew. “The captain usually greets you and shakes your hand, but when you board but he doesn’t do that anymore.”
Adam Twidell, CEO of London-based on-demand private jet charter provider PrivateFly, said he had seen a “significant number” of requests in the past few hours from Americans currently in Europe, looking to fly back to the US — and other requests from US citizens wanting to fly from other parts of Europe to the UK, which is exempt from the ban.
“Although this situation is unprecedented, as we have seen before in times of disruption, people do turn to private jet charter to fill the gap,” Twidell added.
He said a majority of inquiries were from people “very concerned”about getting their families back together as soon as possible, given how rapidly the situation is developing.
“One client is flying his daughter home to the US from university in France and several of her fellow students … are sharing the flight back with her,” Twidell said.
PrivateFly said typical pricing from Paris to New York on a long-range jet such as a Dassault Falcon 7X — shown above — or a Bombardier Global would be in the region of $85,000 to $95,000.
In Europe, it would cost in the region of $5,000 or $6,000 for a small jet seating between four and six people on a short flight, such as from Paris to London.
Airlines have canceled thousands of flights globally as they try to cope with a slump in passenger demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Emergency cost-cutting measures to protect profits include grounding flights, cutting routes and implementing hiring freezes. The International Air Transport Association has said the industry could take a hit of up to $113 billion from the disruption.