NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The private aviation segment is on a strong upswing, according to a well-known private aviation executive.
Rick Gardner, a US commercial pilot, flight instructor and Bahamas flying ambassador, told Eyewitness News noting that international flight numbers well in excess of 2019 are being seen.
“Private aviation is on a very strong upswing,” he said.
“Inventories of used aircraft is way down and used aircraft prices have skyrocketed. Delivery times for new aircraft are also booming, third quarter 2021 deliveries for Turboprops increased 40.6 percent over the same period in 2021 and jet deliveries rose 15.9 percent.
“Most of these increases appear to be driven by a desire to avoid busy terminals and aircraft cabins where COVID exposure, passenger congestion and increased cases of unruly passenger behaviour in commercial aircraft cabins (5,240 cases already reported this year through November 16, 2021 per FAA). Many people with significant net worth are deciding to make the investment in having their own private aircraft rather than deal with the airlines.”
Gardner said: “This market is a very attractive and lucrative tourism market for The Bahamas and I hope that the government continues to make the investment in time and money to facilitate their arrivals and to continue to make The Bahamas the premier destination for private aircraft.”
According to Gardner, much of the traffic from the growth in private aircraft numbers has been inwardly focused within the US as many aircraft owners and pilots are balking at the complexity of COVID requirements for flying internationally.
“Having to constantly deal with this myself, I can understand their sentiments and we have taken steps within our company to stay abreast of procedures and testing locations and provide that information to our members and customers. Nonetheless, we are seeing international flight numbers in 2021 well in excess of 2019,” said Gardner.
He added: “I believe that for those who have experienced the flexibility, ease and safety of traveling on private aircraft, they will not want to return to the commercial airline travel market. With this trend towards private aviation, I believe that The Bahamas is poised to benefit from this market for years to come provided that The Bahamas does not alienate this market as there are other countries who are more aggressively eying this lucrative market in these difficult times and looking at ways to steer this traffic to their destinations.”