Although commercial flight operations are still a long way to recovery, one private aviation brand has seen demand for private flights picking up, warranting its expansion across South-east Asia with new charter routes.
Speaking to TTG Asia, Jim Baldy, CEO of Yugo, an air mobility platform that connects numerous points across Asia-Pacific, said the company has commenced new routes in the Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand. Some of the more attractive new routes include Manila to Banwa Private Island in the Philippines; Koh Kong to Sihanoukville in Cambodia; Bangkok to Koh Samui in Thailand; Kuala Lumpur to Genting Highlands and Genting Highlands to Langkawi in Malaysia.
With the additional routes, Yugo now operates to over 150 destinations in this region, supported by a fleet of more than 50 aircraft from renowned private jet manufacturers such as Gulfstream, Bombardier and Dassault Falcon, as well as helicopter specialists Bell, Airbus, Leonardo and Robinson.
Yugo is presently working with select travel agents to supply its chartered flights, and is open to expanding its partnerships.
“We believe in the creation of an ecosystem where we provide solutions to trade agents to best suit the needs of their guests and customers. We welcome all new channels and networks,” remarked Baldy.
According to Baldy, Yugo is seeing an almost equal interest from leisure and business travellers, with leisure bookings being slightly more at the moment. However, the convenience of private aviation charters has helped to blur the lines between business and pleasure trips, with many Yugo customers choosing to “pick up close ones to travel to another destination for leisure” after work is done.
He said private aviation charters are a “business enabler” and a “reliable option for leisure activities”, hence the new routes were established to support desires to blend business with leisure during trips made amid the pandemic.
“We believe it is a great time to fly private to break with the constraints inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Baldy remarked. One of the top travel constraints today is health and safety concerns, and private aviation charters can offer reduced infection exposure risks to travellers.
He elaborated: “For example, there are around 700 points of contacts during a commercial flight. This is reduced to approximately 30 during a private flight. For the transportation of our guests, their families, friends and business partners, travelling private (provides) additional safety.”
While private aviation charters are often regarded as an exclusive service only for the rich and famous, Yugo has made solutions “much more accessible to a slightly wider number of people”.
“It is actually easier to book a private flight than what most people think. And since passengers can go for a rideshare, an empty leg flight, or a flight by the seat, it is also usually cheaper than what they usually think (a private flight would cost),” Baldy said.
Yugo customers can search and book flights online, or rely on Yugo’s concierge for arrangements.
When asked to clarify a common misconception that passengers on private aviation charters were able to bypass immigration restrictions, Baldy said all charters and passengers must still abide by local regulations and health protocol requirements.