Private jet service booms amid coronavirus fears

'We've seen an unprecedented surge in demand for private jet flights'

Private jet companies have seen a surge in business as major airlines are hit with slowing sales and canceled flights due to novel coronavirus fears.

International flights have been impacted especially hard as a result of travel restrictions including banned flights from and to specific countries.

"We've seen an unprecedented surge in demand for private jet flights as travelers seek to reduce the risk of catching the virus or wish to move their families on routes which have been shut down," Lidor Revah, founder and CEO of private jet company Imperium Jets, said in a statement to FOX Business.

"We've also experienced a dramatic upswing in online travel agencies reaching out about using our platform to offer their customers the option to purchase seats on private aircraft."

There has been a private jet industry-specific spike in of approximately 25 percent in the last three weeks, Lidor said citing the International Air Transport Association.

Private jet flights from Hong Kong to Australia and North America in January have jumped by 214 percent, and all other destinations were up 34 percent from the same period in January 2018. Jet fuel is also down 34.2 percent from last year, Lidor added.

The IATA said on Thursday that airlines could lose up to $113 billion in 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Private jet company JetSuite Director of Charter Sales Eric Dufay told FOX Business in a statement that JetSuite has also experienced "an uptick of about 5-10 percent in new inquiries from people that have not flown private in the past."

The company has experienced more bookings from "corporate clients who are not being allowed to fly commercially," as well as families traveling together for spring break.

Medical personnel stand ready as the Ukrainian aircraft chartered by the Ukrainian government for evacuation from the Chinese city of Wuhan lands at Borispil international airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.(Ukrainian Presidential

Dufay added, however, that JetSuite "has also seen a rise in cancelations as meetings are being done remotely."

Ron Silverman, chief commercial officer of private jet company XO, echoed the same trend.

"We have seen a rise in private jet travel as clients from across the globe are increasingly utilizing our services during this delicate time affected by the coronavirus outbreak.  Many of them have never flown private before. We foresee continued growth from customers who prefer private over commercial options, and we will continue to accommodate all of our members during this period of high demand," Silverman told FOX Business.

Ian Moore, chief commercial officer at VistaJet, said that "one of the main reasons people prefer to travel on private jets is the ability to reduce vulnerability to world dynamics."

"Today, as in other times of instability, we observe greater movement on our fleet. While we cannot assume the exact reason for flying, VistaJet has made a strong start to 2020 despite the unique set of challenges posed by COVID-19. Early figures from January and February 2020 highlight that VistaJet’s total number of flights increased by a further 16 percent [year-over-year] and the company continues to see strong demand across all regions," Moore said.

The United States declared a public health emergency in January and announced significant entry restrictions because of COVID-19 after it spread within China and then to other countries, initially saying they expected to bring flights to China back in March or April, but many airlines have kept flights suspended.

The virus continues to spread throughout the United States and other countries, leading to about 4,290 deaths related to the virus globally. The United States, in particular, has reached more than 1,000 confirmed cases, and 25 Americans have died from the virus as of Wednesday.

American, Delta and United, as well as a number of other global airlines, have suspended flights to China until further notice. American, United and Southwest CEOs have all announced paycuts as a result of the COVID-19 impact on nationwide and international travel.

The Office of Attending Physician on Wednesday said it reviewed travel guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and told travelers to "consider that while you may not be traveling to a country for which travel is to be deferred, you may be exposed to infected individuals from nations of concern, through waiting areas/security lines/gates in airport terminals while awaiting flights."

This post has been updated to include Silverman's and Moore's comments.