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Demand for private jets takes off

By Lawrence Gash

Global demand skyrockets as Asia's super rich flee from coronavirus-infected zones

While commercial airlines struggle to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, private jet brokers are reporting a surge in sales. Asia’s super rich are seemingly using their resources to flee to less-infected regions, according to data first highlighted by the Financial Times.

WingX, a company that provides market data on business aviation flight activity, has observed a considerable flight of individuals from the billionaire capital of the world, Hong Kong.

January private jet flights from Hong Kong to locations in Australia and North America increased by 214 per cent on the year before. Private flights from the financial hub to other regions around the world increased by 34.2 per cent in the month compared with last year.

Alain Leboursier, sales director at Luna Jets, a leading private jet broker, admitted: “We’ve seen a crazy amount of requests.”

With the coronavirus epidemic only intensifying in recent weeks, the increase of February private jet flights could outdo January’s shocking surge.

The spread of the virus has accelerated in the past week, with more than 77,000 people infected and more than 2,600 dead. The arrival of the virus in Italy, South Korea, Oman and Iran has shaken markets. The 200+ cases and seven deaths in northern Italy has particularly hit markets with the pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index set to suffer its worst plunge in four year.

While Chinese officials had hoped to get citizens back to work by February 24, millions still remain under lockdown. The grinding of Chinese industry and retail has had a significant knock-on effect to western supply chains and other Asian markets.

While the private jet business may be booming, the commercial airline business is not. Shares in Asiana Airlines and Korean Air both fell by more than 5 per cent in Monday trading after the number of confirmed cases in South Korea surged to 700.

On Friday last week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted the coronavirus outbreak would cost the industry around $29.3bn.

FURTHER READING: Chinese authorities may take over HNA amid coronavirus disruption

FURTHER READING: Coronavirus: how airline stocks have reacted and what might happen next

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