Business jets’ use in PHLexceeds pre-Covid stats


MORE Filipino executives and high net worth individuals (HNWI) are traveling by business jets these days, especially to nearby countries in Southeast Asia.

In an email to the BusinessMirror, VistaJet chief commercial officer Ian Moore said, “Compared to 2019, pre-Covid, we were up 55 percent as of the end of 2022, in terms of number of flights to and from the Philippines. If we compare 2022 to 2021, we are up 376 percent.”

VistaJet chief commercial officer Ian Moore

The most popular Philippine routes, according to him, are from Manila to Hong Kong and Singapore, followed by Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. “Even though popular VistaJet flights from the Philippines tend to be to other parts of East Asia, we do get some flights from the Philippines to North America and Europe. We also have people from North America and Europe flying into Asia, and Manila is sometimes one of the stops on their itinerary as they travel to various points in Asia,” he said.

International property consultant Knight Frank reported 13,936 HNWI, or those who have a million dollars or more, in the Philippines in 2021. This is projected to rise to about 19,000 by 2025.

‘Flexible and convenient’

VistaJet is a unit of Dubai-based Vista Global Holding, which provides worldwide business flight services. The Group recently reported a 50-percent increase in revenue last year versus 2021, driven by a 74-percent growth in VistaJet’s Program membership gross hours sold in 2022. Another Vista brand, XO, offers smaller-size business jets like Cessna Citations, that can be booked on a per-seat basis. VistaJet operates larger aircraft such as the Bombardier Challenger and Bombardier Global, which are booked in their entirety.

Moore noted that the Asian region, including the Philippines, has seen a tremendous growth in business aviation, such that the latter “recovered from the pandemic much faster than commercial aviation. There is a lot of pent-up demand for travel especially in this part of the world. We are positioning more aircraft in the region to meet the demand.”

He attributed the increased use of business jets by Philippine companies and HNWI to the transport option’s flexibility and convenience. “When you fly on a business jet, you fly according to your schedule, not the airline’s. You can also fly to smaller airports that are more convenient in terms of their location to the city and the ease with which you clear customs and immigration,” he explained.

Moore also cited the pandemic itself as a reason more Filipinos started taking business jets: “There are fewer touch points—you come in contact with fewer people—and you have more control over who boards the aircraft.”

Flights in Asia seen rising by 25 percent

Lastly, he added, there are also some routes that commercial carriers have yet to restore, as such, VistaJet’s fleet makes these destinations more accessible.

Moore expressed optimism that despite the recovery of traditional commercial carriers, business aviation will continue to perform strongly, especially in Asia. “Once you fly on a business jet, it is very hard to fly commercially ever again. Also, airlines have yet to fully restore their international networks and may never, with the same level of flight frequency as they did before.”

He added, business aircraft owners are also seeing the cost efficiency in leasing VistaJet’s aircraft. “[They] are realizing that it makes more sense to sign up for our subscription program where they have access to a fleet of aircraft and have an aircraft when and where they need it. If you own your own aircraft it is a hassle because you have all these people you need to employ and manage: pilots, cabin crew, flight schedulers, etc. Aircraft owners are switching to VistaJet because it is a more cost efficient and hassle-free way to fly private.”

VistaJet is targeting a 25-percent increase in its flights in Asia this year. “We are confident of hitting that target as we see the strong demand for private aviation in this region,” said Moore. About 10 percent of VistaJet’s flights come from Asia.