Here’s how the private aviation industry is adapting to improve the future of business travel.
Very little about business aviation looks the same way it did today as it did just over a year ago. From the way crews are scheduled to how aircraft are cleaned in between guests and even the shift to a private jet-first mindset, businesses and jet charter operators alike had to quickly rethink their approach to air travel.
For a brief time, the coronavirus pandemic appeared to wane. Now that cases are once again on the rise, many operators and their clientele are falling back on the procedures that were established during the first wave of the pandemic.
This reversal to former protocols helps to answer very important questions about the efficacy and reliability of the technology, tools, and practices that were quickly ushered in at a moment’s notice. Many companies that rely on air travel for business purposes have questioned which changes will stick around after Covid. And for good reason — setting the right expectations is a big part of the travel planning process.
At Access Jet Group, we’ve been on the front lines of the changes in private aviation throughout the global pandemic, many of which we implemented before they became standard operating procedures. Now that we have the benefit of hindsight, we can better predict which of these changes will continue to shape the future of business aviation post-Covid:
Additional Layers of Health and Safety
In an industry that already takes the health and safety of its guests very seriously, aviation as a whole found a way to take this aspect to new heights. Notable changes include more frequent and thorough cabin cleanings, advanced sanitation with ultraviolet lights and ionized air machines, and residual disinfectants in between each guest.
While the extra focus on cleanliness bears a cost, it’s one that many operators will continue to pay because of the comfort and peace of mind it gives their guests.
Since the onset of Covid, we have learned that the greatest risk of contamination comes from the air, not from touching contaminated surfaces. Prior to Covid, aircraft already had sophisticated HEPA filtration systems and circulation, leading to a lower risk for in-flight transmission of the virus.
But now, a top priority has become to avoid boarding any guests infected with the Covid virus. Stacking additional layers of health and safety, such as pre-travel screenings and temperature checks, are likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
Covid Protocols Evolve — Without Disrupting Guest Service
During the first several weeks of the pandemic, a lot of information flooded communication channels. Information sharing between business aviation partners became critical as airlines worked to establish standard operating procedures and best practices. For smaller operators, this was an unprecedented level of collaboration as private charter companies connected with other operators to share information.
Collaboration has helped airline operators to successfully establish Covid-related policies and ensure their staff and crew are fully trained and fluid on new protocols. Implementation of these policies has been successful, as well, most noted in the lack of disruption to guest services. Not having any noticeable gaps in service is key to providing a consistent, trustworthy experience.
Business aviation is in a unique position to achieve this consistency, given the bespoke approach we take to our guests’ travel. While all airline operators are committed to following the general recommendations provided by the CDC, it’s also apparent that operators can progress faster through screenings and requirements because of a less varied clientele.
However, it’s also worth noting that all business aviation operators must be prepared for guests who is reluctant to adhere to Covid protocols, such as mask mandates and social distancing. In these instances, operators have taken additional preparations to accommodate passengers without calling undue attention to a situation.
Vaccination & Testing Requirements Will Continue
With more restaurants, cities, venues, and other locations starting to mandate proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test upon entry, it’s highly likely that this practice will soon spill into air travel. Business aviation operators must be continually aware of current Covid testing requirements, especially those that might be specific to a particular city, state, or country. Local mandates in Hawaii might be different than those in New York, for example.
In some instances, we’ve seen airline operators develop their own internal Covid testing process, where aircraft have dedicated testing kits. Tests are conducted on crew members in the hangar or hotel rooms, with results being available within 22 minutes and at a 99% accuracy.
While a vaccination passport still doesn’t exist, it might in the future, especially concerning international air travel. Some industry experts liken it to other vaccines that are required when traveling to certain countries, such as yellow fever. If this is the case, operators believe it may result in different requirements per country, which could mean different requirements for each leg of an international flight.
Airline operators aren’t discounting the possibility at the moment, and will work it into their existing procedures just as they have with testing, temperature checks, and other screenings.
Consistency Must Follow Agility
More than a year and a half into the pandemic, there’s still much we don’t know about the future of Covid. What we do know is that as new information becomes available, business aviation operators must be ready to adapt their policies and protocols, and then be able to quickly communicate any changes to maintain consistency in operations.
Consistency is one of the key components that continues to set private jet travel apart from other options for passengers. It puts minds at ease, sets high expectations, and builds trust with new and repeat guests alike. Now more than ever, operators must continually review and revise their practices, remain agile in implementing needed changes, and ensure a consistent front throughout operations.
At Access Jet Group, we continue to remain vigilant at a time when scrutinizing every detail remains of the utmost importance. We are committed to your continued health and safety every time you travel. To learn more about how we’re providing a safer business aviation experience, reach out to our team today.