Sino Jet, Asia’s largest and fastest growing business jet operator, has shared candid insight into their operational environment in 2020. The company commented that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shift in public perception of business jets from a luxury product to a safe and efficient transportation tool and alternative to commercial options. Despite “third-wave” restrictions now tightening in Hong Kong, Sino Jet stated confidence that if cohesive stakeholder cooperation can be achieved, international travel in Asia could resume as early as Q4 2020.
Sino Jet received over two thousand enquiries in the period January to April 2020, many from first-time users of business aviation. These passengers included “study-abroad” students and stranded businesspeople. A company spokesperson said, “These passengers would ordinarily fly with the airlines, however, flights were either cancelled or deemed unsafe, and we saw an increase in business jet charter as a result. From June, the volume of flight requests has slowed due to completion of repatriation flights, however, demand from business users remains strong.”
The operator reported an uptake in “new entrants” including technology and start-up leaders. “Our clients rely on face-to-face interactions, especially in Asia. When travel is essential for a business’s survival, we pride ourselves on achieving the “Mission Impossible” that can be the difference between a company’s survival or its collapse. The impact of one business trip could affect jobs across the whole supply chain, and we take seriously our part in keeping businesses moving.”
Across the region, restricted border passage and crew visa requirements present further issues in allocating crew to missions. Sino Jet has adjusted to this challenge by making use of its extensive, international and local crew network, dual headquarters in Beijing and Hong Kong SAR, and highly-skilled operations team. The company has introduced a dedicated, 24-hour team to monitor the fast-changing operational and regulatory environment, and stringent regulations relating to crew health, aircraft cleaning, disinfection, and administration.
“Despite all the obvious issues, we see an opportunity for the industry to play a role in the region’s economic recovery. With increasing understanding of the value of business aviation, we can operate essential flights that would otherwise be impossible.”
Border control has been one of the most challenging elements of the operational environment in 2020. Often policies change quickly, leaving little time for repatriation before, for example, a border closes. Sino Jet has invested significant manpower in staying abreast of changes and providing solutions to ensure its clients can travel when needed. With dual headquarters in Beijing and Hong Kong, and offices around the region, the company is well placed to navigate policy changes and border restrictions faster than many industry players.
Sino Jet began implementing precautionary steps to its operations when COVID-19 was first detected in early January. The company’s cabin service department introduced new aircraft disinfection and safety guidelines including temperature checks, wearing PPE, and coating the aircraft with an antibacterial sanitization product. In addition to stringent crew and passenger hygiene policies, Sino Jet crew also self-quarantine after every trip.
“With all the new measures in place, we deliver a clean, safe and healthy environment for all our clients and employees. In 2020, as always, our priority is as a responsible employer and member of the aviation community. At the heart of this is our commitment to defining a safe “new normal” that allows businesses and economies to recover, and families to be together.”