Charter Brokers Facing 'Perfect Storm'

 - January 26, 2023, 7:01 PM
Charter availability is still difficult as several factors, such as industry consolidation, new flyers, and workforce issues, squeeze the market.(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Charter brokers are still finding demand outpacing available aircraft as newcomers are beginning to stay, operators consolidate, and private jet owners withdraw their managed aircraft from the charter market, according to a senior executive at Hunt and Palmer.

Wendi Matthews-Ortiz, v-p of executive aviation in the U.S. for Hunt and Palmer, said these factors are creating a perfect storm for brokers both in the U.S. and Europe. She noted that for the first time in her 25-year career, she’s had to inform clients that there is no available aircraft at their price points.

“The pandemic brought a rush of newcomers to charter when the scheduled airlines stopped serving regular routes,” said Matthews-Ortiz. Furthermore, she said airline frequent flyers are remaining loyal to charter in light of forecasts that a recovery of the airline industry might take until 2025.

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that a number of business aircraft owners are no longer offering their managed aircraft from charter, while operators such as Vista Global and Wheels Up are consolidating. And a lack of flight crews is further adding pressure, she said.

Clients have been able to find discounted pricing on empty legs in the past couple of years. “Obtaining a Gulfstream GIV charter for the equivalent price of a light jet was like winning the lottery, but even so some clients are now complaining: 'That’s 50 percent more than we paid last year,'” she said.

While leisure travel booking has been dominating the charter travel since the pandemic began, the business sector, particularly banking, is returning. “We have quoted multi-leg trips for a number of roadshows for banking customers, which typically book large-cabin charter aircraft,” said Matthews-Ortiz.