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James Clark

Vice President, On Demand Sales for Asia Pacific, Hong Kong

You experienced the start of the COVID-19 wave. When did you start to see things change?

Being in close proximity to Wuhan, there was a fear that the virus was going to spread to Hong Kong and across the rest of Asia. Towards the end of January, during Chinese New Year, a lot of people were travelling to see families and were away from their homes. When the Chinese government issued new regulations just after the New Year, the threat of the virus became more prominent and suddenly there was an influx of flight requests with people wanting to get back to their homes. We were looking at hundreds of enquiries and had a constant stream of phone calls; there was a lot of pressure to manage everything.

Did you find that brokers and customers were more understanding of the challenges you were facing?

Yes, and I think that is predominantly down to the way we’ve handled ourselves. We gave everyone as much information as we could, so they could make informed decisions. Overall, I found by keeping the channels of communication open, people were flexible and open to working with us to find solutions.

Did you find that there was a lot more collaboration across markets?

Definitely. The Dubai and London teams had to know exactly what was going on in the Asia market in order to handle enquiries into the evening of our time zone; enquiries were coming in every hour for 24 hours. It wasn’t just about the Asia team taking the reign and guiding the other teams. All the teams had to work on the same basis and know the same details at the same time.

Was there competition in the market for flight bookings?

There’s always going to be competition in the market, but honestly speaking we never had to compete for flights. We’ve had a steady stream of requests and from March, we could also see flight patterns emerging on the fleet, so we pinpointed the routes we were going to be competitive on.

The other reason why we didn’t have to worry about our competitors is because there is a level of confidence from our brokers and customers in the VistaJet fleet. Having a floating fleet and our global scale is extremely beneficial to our customers, as it means they have recovery options. Most people who understand this know that we are the best option in the market.

Are people, and C-suite, flying more during the summer months?

There is a lot of inbound traffic into Asia. We are still seeing long haul flights on our Global fleet from the US, Europe and South America picking people up and bringing them back.

With regards to C-suite executives, companies are definitely turning to at business jets to take essential workers to where they need to be to get their businesses functioning again.

In general, I think there’s a bit of stigma with countries that have had higher number of COVID-19 cases in the past. I think it's still going to be a bit of time before Asia fully starts to open up again.

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