When the artist also known as Aubrey Graham unveiled Air Drake, his customized US$220-million-plus private jet, on Instagram last autumn, the world took notice.
This converted Boeing 767 cargo plane, roughly the size of a commercial airliner, is like a New York penthouse in the sky, with all the high-end comforts you would expect. Its massive cabin is fitted with soft, lavender-coloured sofas and about two-dozen leather recliners gathered around gleaming, highly-polished hardwood tables.
There’s at least one bedroom, a private living room, several closed compartments and an off-white exterior paint scheme punctuated with Drake’s iconic OVO logo.
While this level of luxury is rare, many travellers are choosing some version of physically-distanced private air travel over crowded commercial flights during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There’s been certainly a groundswell of demand,” said Anthony Norejko, president and CEO of the Canadian Business Aviation Association, a lobby group that represents more than 400 companies that own private aircraft.
“Both new aircraft owners (and) our charter management companies have said the same. What they’re seeing now is a pent-up demand.”
Private Aviation Boom
The number of business aircraft flights in Canada, the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean cratered in April, as much of the world went into lockdown due to Covid-19.
Many luxury private jet owners relocated during the early days of the pandemic, then hunkered in place until governments relaxed travel restrictions. Analysts are expecting a V-shaped recovery that is already in progress — traffic increased 84 per cent between April and May. And given the stakes of contracting a life-threatening illness, it’s expected many will look to private jet travel as long-term replacements for airline flights.
“You get to control who is on the aircraft with you,” said Norejko, listing the benefits. “You’ll be able to go when and where you want, whereas airlines are turning back all non-essential routes. And if you’re trying to get anywhere regionally in Canada, those flights are becoming limited.”
It’s worth noting that private jets and helicopters are not exclusively the domain of billionaires and corporate executives. Fractional ownership companies like Calgary-based AirSprint provide access to elite-level jets — like the eight-passenger, $18-million Embraer Legacy 450 — for about the price of a mid-level Ferrari.
“If you do a smart job on your aircraft selection … it becomes easier and easier to make the business case to have this tool available,” said Norejko.
If you’re ready to test the market, here’s a roundup of some of Canada’s most popular private jets, and a few game-changers that will help you reimagine your approach to travel. ✈
Source: Regarding Luxury Magazine; Posted June 11, 2020 by Ben Forrest