Call it the economy, but New Zealand’s unprecedentedly crowded skies over summer also welcomed an increasing number of private jets.
Billionaire talk host Oprah Winfrey and US actor Reece Witherspoon caused excitement landing in Queenstown last month ahead of beginning Disney film A Wrinkle in Time, landing in Oprah’sGulfstream G650 private jet. It was built in 2015 and delivered to Winfrey in 2016. Winfrey has owned other jets with the same registration tag, such as a 2013 G550.
Earlier, it was Wellington and Auckland airports’ turn, with the eagerly anticipated touch down of rock legends Guns N’ Roses, who were transported on their Not in this Lifetime world tour in a custom-fitted Boeing 757. Similar in beige décor to Oprah’s, the alcohol-free luxury transport is a far cry from the last time Guns N’ Roses visited New Zealand on the Use Your Illusion tour in 1992, when they borrowed a 727-100 from Las Vegas’s MGM Grand, stocked with a floor-to-roof bar, cinema and luxury beds.
Since 2013, New Zealand media have reported on the growth of visitors arriving by private jets as well as commercial airlines, and how airports such as Queenstown and Auckland have invested in modifications to accommodate increasing numbers of private travellers.
Globally there appears to be no let-up in demand, despite less Russian and Chinese billionaires, with a buoyant second-hand market likely. Bloomberg reports that rather in numbers, the growth in new purchases are being made in quality, not quantity, at the ultra-luxury end. This is particularly as the business-jet market has grown considerably during the past two decades. Between them in 2014, the commercial-aerospace divisions of Boeing and Airbus were already reporting these as a $115 billion portion of their annual revenue.
Meanwhile, Business Travel News reports significant increases in private jet use for business commutes, especially from London to Paris. PrivateFly, a global private jet charter broker company, allows people to book a private jet to any destination. Most PrivateFly users aren’t high-net-worth individuals, but rather business people/owners or families. Options are currently available for travellers in New Zealand using the service.
Fares for hiring a private jet might be reasonable, but with latest prices for the new Gulfstream G650 beginning at US$64.5 million this might necessitate a few more tour dates for a number of comeback bands of the 1990s.
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