Jet Aviation’s Leslie Cheshier joins the US Charter Association for CJI’s recent Webinar on Charter trends
Leslie Cheshier, Vice President Charter & Owner Services for the Americas, recently represented Jet Aviation in a webinar discussion led by Corporate Jet Investors (CJI) together with The Air Charter Association. For those of you who missed it, keep reading to see what she had to say about the market.
Leslie, what are you seeing with customers on the charter side?
Flight activity has not returned to "normal," and I suppose the bigger question is, is this the new norm? We have seen increasing demand on light and mid-distance flights and we've also experienced an increase in clientele, but we are not yet seeing the return to heavy charter requests.
The business travel has also been very light. Clients are starting to fly again, but we are not the only ones working from home or remotely. That said, however, we have some exciting future bookings. What is clear is that, clients certainly want to fly again and are eager to get back to business as usual. We find this very encouraging.
Are you getting a lot of first-time users?
The one-way market is also being heavily shopped, perhaps because it's the best price option. We have noted that many of these new clients are new to business aviation, pursuing options that they think are safer (i.e. due to Covid), but they are definitely shopping around, looking for the best price point. For the business, of course, we require more time with this market segment to help educate them.
As head of Owner Services, have you seen owners removing their aircraft from charter because of Covid-19?
We see owners reacting both ways. Some don't want other people flying their aircraft because of Covid. In fact, in some cases, crew have also been cautious. Others are asking us to charter their aircraft because they're not flying now. These owners would rather put their asset to work, some of whom were even previously closed to allowing their aircraft for charter.
Will pent up demand due to travel restrictions cause a shift in the usual seasonal travel?
One can hope. We certainly didn't have a usual summer, with nearly no International travel. We hope that as the travel bans are lifted, we'll see more travel.
Will travel destinations change? Will there be less future International travel as clients rediscover the wonders of America?
This is also possible – and we'll be happy to assist with all those flights, both domestic and international!
Are North Americans nervous about European or overseas travel?
This is where we come in as educators. The quarantine and travel bans are the biggest concern, and we rely on our both our International and Safety departments for their incredible support in this regard. Again, our overwhelming impression is that people want to get back to their normal travel patterns. They want to fly again!
Are your crews adapted to the masks and all the new protocols?
Here we can speak of the new normal again. I think it's remarkable how well and how quickly our crews and our FBOs have adapted. They are prepared to do whatever it takes. The safety team has taken every precaution to ensure we are doing everything we can to stop the spread and our crews and FBOs have just, well, stepped up. They are committed to doing whatever it takes.
Are you Optimistic about 2021 yet?
Yes. I'm an optimistic person! But I think it's important to emphasize that we have will have to take it as it comes. One thing that Covid has taught us is the importance — now more than ever — of remaining flexible as an operator and organization.
Indeed, Leslie. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us!
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