12 April 2011

EasyJet or Private Jet – the growing breed who shun the middle ground

Following the news that Prime Minister David Cameron and wife Samantha are back from their short break in Spain, where they travelled by Ryanair (and were snapped waiting to board at Stansted), comes the announcement the Deputy PM Nick Clegg will shun his holiday home abroad this Easter for a holiday in Norfolk (Sunday Times). These travel arrangements have provoked some considerable reaction in the British media, including a letter to the Telegraph on Saturday saying that UK PMs needed to “have more balls and travel in style”.

Similarly, showbusiness and media mogul Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber mentioned in a weekend TV interview with Piers Morgan that he uses a combination of private jets and low cost airlines (in his case it was Flybe to Majorca). These are a couple of high-profile examples of a small, but growing group of travellers: Those who choose to travel by low cost airlines or by private jet – rarely on scheduled airlines.

We see this type of customer more and more at PrivateFly.com. Their (post-recessionary) attitude is that it’s all about efficiency: One option reflects the most cost-efficient way of getting from A to B; the other, the most time-efficient. While they have the income required to travel by private jet, they are savvy enough to pick and choose the occasions where a low cost airline represents a better bet. This is normally when they can use airports close to home; when the route is (very) direct to their destination; and when the low cost carrier offers a higher frequency of flights or suitable take-off times. If these boxes are not ticked, then they will hire a private jet instead (naturally at the most cost-effective market rate) and get there in the shortest possible time, often driving right up to the aircraft’s steps, sidestepping all queues and departure lounge delays – and working solidly on the flight.

A more cynical view of the Camerons’ and Lloyd-Webbers’ travel choices might point to a certain awareness of their media profile but, certainly for the rest of this breed of traveller, efficiency is at the heart of their travel choices. Private jets are more about time-saving and less about luxury.

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