PrivateFly, a jet charter booking network, has issued its predictions for the business aviation industry in 2014. Its expectations include a strong summer season in Europe and continued polarised demand for aircraft at each end of the size spectrum.

Adam Twidell, CEO and founder, said,  “As another year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on a busy year at PrivateFly – and across the industry. A real highlight for us has been progress on our multi-platform offering, including our biggest ever flight booked via our app – a $500,000 multi-leg trip from the Middle East to Europe. It’s clearer than ever that today’s private jet customer is becoming more comfortable using new technology to arrange their business aviation.

“I’m excited about 2014. The market is still challenging but there is a lot to look forward to. These are some of the things I expect to see in the year ahead.”

1 More tentative steps towards recovery
Obviously the big story for the whole industry remains the challenging economic climate – and I think this will remain the case in 2014.

This time last year we asked global industry professionals what they expected to see happen in 2013 in terms of industry growth or decline. The 35% who expected to see some return to growth turned out to be a little optimistic.

Latest data from WingX-Advance.com shows that flight volumes in Europe were down 2.7% year-to-date, against the previous year. The market in Europe is still going to be tough in 2014 but I do think some optimism is justified.

2 Continued polarisation of aircraft choice
A clear trend in the charter segment this year has been demand growth at the opposite ends of the size spectrum. Very Light Jets, such as the Cessna Mustang  at one end and the Ultra Long Range (ULR) jets – notably the Bombardier Global Express – at the other. The strength of the ULR category is particularly noticeable, with a 14% increase seen in demand in Europe’s charter market year-on-year. The Very Light jets saw 6%. Most other aircraft categories were static or in decline.

This is set to continue. 2014?s private jet customer will choose either cost-efficiency or luxury. But increasingly avoid the middle ground.

3 All hail the King (Air) on its golden jubilee
The king of the Turbo Props – the Beechcraft King Air will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its FAA certification in 2014. And it looks set to be a golden year in more ways than one. Like the Very Light Jet category, is has proved more resilient to the recession than other aircraft types.

King Air aircraft are noted for being modern, comfortable, fast and quiet. Some models also have an exceptional VIP luxury interior – rivalling any private jet aircraft. But perhaps the factor that really defines them in the charter market, is their cost-efficiency.

I think we’ll see the King Air go from strength to strength in 2014.

4 A strong 2014 summer season in Europe
I predict we’ll see more variable seasonality in demand in 2014, with a particular spike in the summer months in Europe.

The summer sees business and leisure demand coincide, and while business aviation is bearing the brunt of the recession, the market for private aviation (leisure) charter in Europe is buoyant, particularly in the summer months between June and September.

Lifestyle changes will continue to drive this pattern. Many of our clients are now unable to escape from their working lives for long, combining work and shorter holidays instead. VIP summer events such as the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix also drive increased seasonal demand.

I predict we’ll see June 2014 experience the biggest month of post-recession charter demand in Europe.

5 A new breed of private jet customer
This year we have started to see a definite difference in the profile of the private jet customer and this will become even more apparent in 2014. It’s no longer a service used only by big corporates or A-list celebrities (although these are definitely still in the mix). We are now seeing a greater blend of client profiles and business backgrounds.

Amongst business users, we now see more demand from younger entrepreneurs and business owners, from the technology, property and pharmaceutical industries – who come with a different set of expectations to the private jet customer of old.

The industry in 2014 must adapt to the new private jet user – while keeping its appeal with the established audience.

6 Weather disruption will drive more short notice demand from airline customers
Experts may be divided on the causes of climate change. But whatever the reasons, the increase in unusual weather patterns can play havoc with airline service levels. Today’s airline industry is so tightly scheduled, that a small amount of disruption can have far-reaching effects – lasting days after the weather problems subside.

This year we have seen unexpected weather patterns with heavy snow in early Spring in both Europe and North America. The UK saw the coldest Easter on record, and France experienced exceptionally heavy snowfalls in March, suspending Eurostar and airline services.

Whenever airline services are disrupted, whether through snow, floods, fog (or strikes), private aviation sees an increase in short-term demand. So with unusual weather patterns on the rise, I think we can expect to see this increase in 2014.

7 Speed of response – 2014 will be the fastest year yet
A new speed record might have been set by the Citation X in 2013, but in 2014, speed of a different kind will be paramount.

A few years ago, when a client asked for a private charter price, they might have accepted that it would take hours – or longer – to receive a confirmed quote, and still booked. In 2014 they will simply go elsewhere. Online technology has generated greater consumer expectations of responsiveness – across all industries. And for a premium service, response speed is now an absolutely essential ingredient of commercial success.

Whether the customer is flying immediately or months down the line, you have to respond quickly, relevantly and in the way the customer wants. At PrivateFly our 24-hour flight team’s response speed targets are constantly being adjusted downwards. Records look set to be broken in 2014!”

About PrivateFly
PrivateFly is the leading global booking platform for private jet charter, making it faster, easier and more cost-effective to compare and book private jets. With over 7000 aircraft integrated worldwide, PrivateFly combines innovative technology with a VIP multilingual operations team, available 24 hours.

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