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Buffett’s Netjets expects business boost from wealthy fliers amidst pandemic



NetJets, a private jet firm owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire and the world’s largest private jet company, offering fractional aircraft ownership, private jet leases, and private jet card programs, expects aircraft deliveries to rise by a third in 2021, as wealthy travelers would be looking to avoid commercial flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company had earlier halved its delivery target for this year to 30, said it now expects to take delivery of 40 new airplanes in 2021.” We are ramping our deliveries … we expect deliveries to remain at that level (40 airplanes a year) for the next couple of years,” said Patrick Gallagher, the company’s president of sales, marketing, and service.

Operators of private jets, which can carry up to 19 people, have fared better than commercial airlines as they promise less risk of exposure to the coronavirus because their passengers can avoid crowded airport counters and packed planes. Off- course, personalized service, and attention add to the icing on the cake.

U.S. private aviation traffic has sharply rebounded from an about 75% fall in April, and was down only about 20% for the two weeks ended Nov. 8, according to data from FlightAware traffic.

The lockdown saw major travel restrictions and US airports closed down for a substantial period of time. Consequently, the air traffic was down about 47% for the two weeks ended Nov. 8 from April.

“We have signed on three times as many new customers a year to date this year as we did last year. That trend continues for November and December,”  said Gallagher.

NetJets specializes in selling “fractional” ownership in private jets, allowing individuals and companies to travel on short notice and at much cheaper rates than owning a whole jet. It has a fleet of 511 planes. Nearly half of NetJets’ fleet comprises aircraft manufactured by Textron Inc TXT.N and the rest by Bombardier Inc BBDb.TO, General Dynamics GD.N, Dassault AVMD.PA and Embraer EMBR3.SA.

Textron, the maker of Cessna and Beechcraft planes, has also been benefiting from the trend.

Rob Scholl, a senior VP at Textron Aviation, told Reuters earlier this month that the company is seeing higher demand from first-time owners.

As the pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down and the economy and people have adjusted to social distancing norms, private air travel for wealthy fliers is fast emerging as the safest bet to beat the virus.











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