Coronavirus: rich scramble for private planes from Europe ahead of Trump ban
- Operators receive surge in inquiries from wealthy Americans looking for a way home
- One-way flight from Paris to New York would cost about US$90,000
Airlines are still digesting the implications of US President Donald Trump’s restrictions on travel from Europe but some wealthy Americans are already looking for ways to get home quickly.
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The private plane industry has received a surge in inquiries from Americans currently in Europe, even as operators themselves scramble to clarify how the travel ban will impact their own operations.
“This situation is unprecedented,” said Adam Twidell, chief executive officer of private aircraft charter provider PrivateFly.
“We’re seeing a significant number of requests in the past few hours from Americans currently in Europe, looking to fly back to the US. And others from US citizens wanting to fly from other parts of Europe to the UK, as it is currently exempt from the ban.”
Trump said on Wednesday that he will significantly restrict travel from Europe to the US for the next 30 days.
“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots,” the president said in a televised address. “As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travellers from Europe.”
The development is expected to boost demand for private aircraft among individuals even as corporate air travel tumbles, with companies restricting travel to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The precise impact on transatlantic airline schedules is not clear and the restriction does not apply to legal permanent residents and immediate family members of US citizens. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement that US citizens arriving from Europe will travel through specific airports where they can undergo screening for the virus.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention also raised its travel warning for Europe, advising Americans to avoid non-essential travel to certain countries.
“Travellers returning from the specified countries in Europe must stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health and practice social distancing,” the CDC said in a statement on its website.
While private planes still have to adhere to these restrictions and immigration rules, they are better able to navigate disruptions than commercial aircraft operators.
“Private jets are still flying,” said Toby Edwards, a managing director at charter company Victor. “US citizens are allowed to return to the US and those who have not passed through a Schengen country in the 14 days prior to entry into the US are also currently permitted.”
For those who meet the requirements – and can afford the extra expense – private planes offer the quickest way to the US The cost to charter a long-range aircraft such as a Dassault Falcon 7X or a Bombardier Global to New York from Paris one-way would be about US$90,000, according to PrivateFly.
“Overall the inquiries we’re getting are from people very concerned to get their families back together as soon as possible, given how rapidly the situation is developing,” Twidell said.
“One client is flying his daughter home to the US from university in France, and several of her fellow students – who are also US citizens – are sharing the flight back with her.”