Private flights more popular since pandemic

People choose private jets to avoid contact with other passengers or to fly to business destinations that have become difficult to access.

Slovaks use private flights to travel either for business or for leisure. Slovaks use private flights to travel either for business or for leisure. (Source: Courtesy of ABS Jets)

The main attributes of private flights used to be luxury and flexibility, but the pandemic has changed this. The outbreak of Covid-19 and the implementation of anti-pandemic measures curbed regular air transport, creating more opportunities for private flights.

“Smaller types of airliners are an advantage during the pandemic,” Bohumil Klečák, executive director of the Letisko Piešťany airport, told The Slovak Spectator. “Many passengers used their services for fast transport, either repatriation or sanitarian flights. At the moment when measures were released, business flights, in particular, grew in popularity.”

Globally hit industry

“The coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented, negative impact on air transport globally, probably the largest since the outbreak of WWII,” said Matúš Hrabovský, spokesperson of the M. R. Štefánik Airport – Airport Bratislava.

Flights from and to Slovakia were completely banned for three months starting in March 2020. Subsequently, until mid-September, only flights to selected countries were allowed, but these were accompanied by strict border measures. After the record years of 2018 and 2019, these factors represented a huge loss for the Bratislava airport.

“After years of development, the pandemic has pushed the airport 18 years back,” said Jozef Pojedinec, the airport’s general director.

The airlines operating in Slovakia have resumed most regular flights, although at a lower frequency compared to the past.

“At present, traffic is slowly returning to normal, but the airport is still far from achieving pre-pandemic operating performance,” Hrabovský told The Slovak Spectator, adding that in the winter flight plan, Ryanair will even launch two new routes – Lanzarote in the Canary Islands and Copenhagen.

Slovakia is no exception to the global decline in air transport, though.

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“The operation of commercial airlines was reduced which, in turn, has supported the charter market for private jets,” Markéta Janatová of ABS Jets, one of the largest business jet operators in central and eastern Europe and the leading organisation on the Czech and Slovak markets, told The Slovak Spectator.

Flights for business and holidays dominate

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