Monday, January 15, 2007

Speed & Security - that's what we're paying for

They usually arrive in Singapore on regular scheduled flights from Europe.

Then these well-heeled travellers switch to a chartered jet to fly on to destinations in Indonesia or Thailand.

This means they enjoy greater speed, flexibility, convenience, security and privacy.

Demand for jets that seat six to 16 passengers is soaring in Singapore and the rest of Asia, The Business Times reported.

Companies providing the service here say demand has gone up by as much as 20 per cent in the past two years, with a further 30 per cent likely in the next two or three years.

Executive Jets Asia (EJA), which has four jets based in Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta, is looking at increasing its fleet to six to eight planes within two years.

'We are optimistic about growth prospects and 20 to 30 per cent growth over the next two to three years should not be a problem,' EJA executive director David Ho was quoted as saying.

Pacific Flight Services (PFS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Aerospace, owns two Learjets and a helicopter. According to the company, most of its business comes from leisure travellers.

'The growth is coming mainly from the European market. Travellers usually come to Singapore or Malaysia on a commercial airline, and then connect to places such as Bali and Phuket on charter flights,' a PFS spokesman said.

Of course it means paying a fair bit. Business jet operators charge one-way hourly rates of US$4,000 ($6,180) for five-seat light jets to US$9,800 for 10-seat luxury jets.

These can fly almost 6,000km non-stop.

So what is driving up the demand?

MORE ACTIVITY

Among other things, increasing meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibition (Mice) activity in Singapore.

For example, Seletar Airbase saw an influx of private jets during last year's IMF-World Bank meetings here.

Then there is the growth of the gaming industry across Asia.

The opening of the Las Vegas Sands-owned casino in Macau last year attracted huge crowds, including celebrities, many of whom flew in on private jets.

Singapore's two integrated resorts are also expected to fuel further growth in demand for business jet services.

Security concerns also play a part.

'High-profile people do not want to go through all the check-in and security measures,' one industry official was quoted as saying.

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As seen at ELECTRIC new paper

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