June 25 - More private jets were delivered in Britain during the downturn than any other European country, with sales between 2007 and 2011 up nearly 50 percent on 2002-2006. Ivor Bennett looks at why the luxury air market is doing so well.
It's luxury most can't afford. Over ten thousand dollars per hour in the air. But despite the cost, and the downturn, sales of private jets in Britain are sky high. Over 230 planes were delivered to UK customers during the 4 years after the crisis - almost 50 percent MORE than in the 4 years before. UPSOT (English) JORDAN HANSELL, CEO, NETJETS, SAYING: "This is the newest addition to our fleet. Welcome on board." Jordan Hansell is CEO of NetJets - the largest private aviation carrier in the world. Clients include celebrities, multinationals and even governments. SOUNDBITE (English) JORDAN HANSELL, CEO, NETJETS, SAYING: "People use us for efficiency. They use us for leisure flying. They use us to get into airports they couldn't otherwise access. They use us for schedules they couldn't otherwise keep. For instance I'll be in Europe for three and a half weeks, but over a seven day span I'll be in Istanbul, Nice, Monaco, London, Lisbon, Munich, Moscow. I couldn't do that any other way." This Phenom 300 is one of a new fleet costing nearly 18 billion dollars - the biggest aviation order in history. Judging by demand, it won't be long before it's in the air. SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "A plane like this isn't very big. As you can see I can't even stand up straight. But that's not the point. When it comes to private jets, it's all about convenience. Everything on board is tailored to your needs." The in-flight entertainment is all bespoke. The crew will even arrange birthday presents for your children. And then of course there's the refreshments. UPSOT (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "So if you want say a dish from your favourite restaurant in London. Would you be able to get that on board?" UPSOT (English) JORDAN HANSELL, CEO, NETJETS, SAYING: "Yes we can do it." The downturn saw more new planes delivered to Britain than any other country in Europe. London's status as a global financial capital making it a magnet for the rich and famous. But manufacturers like Beechcraft are now eyeing Asia for the next big take-off. CEO Bill Boisture. SOUNDBITE (English) BILL BOISTURE, CEO, BEECHCRAFT CORPORATION, SAYING: "So one of the exciting things about China is that they are, as part of this 5 year plan, building over 150 airports. and they've recently relaxed their low altitude airspace to allow more unanticipated use of the low altitude airways. All of which makes these airplanes more useful." Despite the buoyant delivery figures, GLOBAL flying demand in the market is still 30 percent short of its pre-crisis peak. So although the planes are being BOUGHT, they're not being flown as much as the industry would like.