Private jet deliveries double on ultra-rich demand

It is a testament to the increasing interest in private flights amid the pandemic, says expert


MALAYSIA delivered four business jets this year with a combined value of nearly US$100 million (RM405 million) as coronavirus pushed more high-net-worth individuals to fly private.

Asian Business Aviation Association Malaysia chapter head Aida Ismail said the four new private jets comprised one brand new aircraft and three pre-owned units of different brands now landed in Subang Airport, the country’s hub for business aviation (BizAv).

Typically, she said two private jet deliveries per year in Malaysia is already considered a good year. With four units this year, it is a testament to the increasing interest in private flights amid the pandemic.

Industry players are pinning hopes for greater support to grow the niche segment, says Aida (TMRpic)

“It is a remarkable and awesome year. We see positive growth in charter requests, flight movements which are set to increase and people still buying aircraft,” Aida told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in a recent interview.

Besides the jets, two new helicopters were delivered in Malaysia last month.

Next year, Aida said Malaysia is looking at four to five new jet deliveries, including four pre-owned aircraft, based on talks in the industry at present.

The country currently has a fleet of 50 business jets.

For flight movements, Aida said the activities remain domestic — such as flights to Kuching, Langkawi and Penang — as international borders are still closed.

However, she said the statistics are not easily available except for the airport operator, adding that the numbers are “still good”.

TMR previously reported that BizAv flights (departures and arrivals) in Malaysia declined 94% year-on-year from 2,156 to 131 flights from April to July based on the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast technology and air traffic control, according to Asian Sky Group (ASG).

ASG MD Jeffrey Lowe said actual flights might be higher than that.

Departure flights dropped from 54 in April 2020 (April 2019: 294) to four in May 2020 (May 2019: 254), one in June 2020 (June 2019: 249) and two in July 2020 (July 2019: 262) for a total of 61 flights in the four-month period compared to 1,059 previously.

Inbound flights decreased from 62 in April 2020 (April 2019: 301) to five in May 2020 (May 2019: 261), two in June 2020 (June 2019: 257) and one in July 2020 (July 2019 : 278), totalling 70 flights versus 1,097 in the same period last year.

Before Covid-19, one ground handler did some 519 private flight movements into Subang Airport. There are about six ground handlers in Subang Airport.

Aida said industry players are pinning hopes for greater support from the government and related agencies to grow the niche segment and contribute to the economy on a greater scale.

“Our wish list is to get better support from the Transport Ministry, Malaysian Aviation Commission, Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and operators because every component of players in the ecosystem has a specific role to grow the industry together,” Aida added.

She said the multiplier effect of private aviation is greater than commercial aviation.

For instance, the value of one private jet flight with four passengers is equal to one full commercial aircraft with 150 passengers. Business jet movements will increase once the international borders are open with more people now looking at flying privately as a better option, she said.

Read our previous report here

Private jet market grows amid industry challenges