The outbreak of Covid-19 has disrupted people’s lives worldwide, and one of the industries that suffered a lot is travel and tourism. Though there are fewer restrictions regarding travel now following drastic improvements in the Covid-19 scenario, people are still scared to travel due to mandatory requirements, including RTPCR tests, travel insurance, early check-in, etc. However, the world has reinvented different measures to overcome the pandemic, including the work-from-home strategy adopted by businesses.
Private aviation, which was once considered affordable for only the high net-worth individuals and business people, has started witnessing a change. Many people who can afford private aviation began using the services due to its sheer convenience and safety.
According to data from research and consultancy WingX, 3.3 million flights were operated in 2021, seven per cent higher than the pre-Covid-19 period. Hygiene concerns and prolonged disruption in commercial aviation aided the private aviation sector.
According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, the US private aviation traffic is up about 15 percent from its 2019 levels, while airline traffic remains down about 13 percent. Private flights are trendy in Europe and North America, but many VIPs in Asia have also started using private jets.
In Cambodia too, people can use private aviation services with Yugo, a Singapore-based private aviation company, which launched its operations during the Singapore Air Show in 2020. For the customers in Cambodia, Yugo, which has an extensive network of aircraft, provides convenient access to private jet and helicopter services worldwide. Its core services include VIP business jets, helicopter flights, air ambulances and cargo.
“We offer trendy routes such as Paris, London, Dubai, Melbourne and Maldives for customers. We also provide air ambulance service to popular destinations like Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur for Cambodia customers,” Jim Baldy, chief executive officer of Yugo, told Khmer Times.
Though many business sectors struggled due to the adverse impact of Covid-19, the private aviation sector survived the period by offering customised services to travellers.
“During the pandemic, the private charter business grew due to limited access to commercial flights. The reasons for growth include cancellation, high prices, and uncertainty of commercial flights. A private charter became one of the prime options for travelling businesspeople. The demand for private jet flights in and around Southeast Asia is growing,” Baldy pointed out.
“We received good demand from customers in Cambodia who are looking for convenience and safety. Especially during Covid-19, many commercial flights were cancelled and many other flights discontinued. Our private jets provided a strong alternative during the pandemic.”
He said the demand for private charters is expected to increase due to a surge in foreign investments in Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.
“During the pandemic, we focused on creating the app to make private aviation accessible to everyone. Private aviation used to be a very close network. We want to create a network of fleets with different operators worldwide. Whenever you want to fly, there’s one we also want to offer the service. We have a membership programme and using our app you can fly anywhere. Private aviation provides a safe way to travel, especially during Covid-19 as there are 20 times fewer touchpoints than commercial flights,” he added.
According to a McKinsey & Company report, a passenger will come into contact with other people and objects an average of 700 times during travel via commercial flights. However, on private flights, the touchpoints number about 20.
While explaining the operations and business strategy of the company, the CEO said, “Our concept is basically to create a technology that provides better access to our products. Our expansion plans are regional. We want to be strong in Cambodia. We are looking to expand in Malaysia and Indonesia, and we’re thinking regional.”
Yugo aircraft includes Gulfstream, Bombardier, Cessna Textron Aviation and Dassault Falcon jets and Bell, Airbus, Leonardo or Robinson helicopters.
He said when compared with commercial flights, private aviation has many advantages such as choice of departure, date and time, luggage space, possibility to fly with pets, and quick access to aircraft.
Pointing out the various services provided by Yugo, its sales and marketing manager Jonathan Lee said, “Our membership allows a convenient booking system for high-quality aircraft solutions while providing members several benefits.”
With the chances of more tourist inflow into Cambodia following zero cases of Covid-19 in the Kingdom, Yugo has been hopeful of attracting more foreigners to its services.
“We are ready to embrace this. We have a few partnerships in the country. We received some queries from foreign tourists looking to fly to Cambodia. You can also see now that people spend the weekend in Bangkok and Singapore a lot now,” Lee added.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.