World Economic Forum 2018: the best selection of business jets

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Anastasia Dagaeva
January 24, 2018

More than 1,000 private jets and helicopters are invading Switzerland this week as business leaders join presidents and prime ministers for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Bankers, advisers, lobbyists and journalists flock to the meeting in Davos every January. Those planning to take a private flight from Britain with a few friends or colleagues can expect to pay up to $38,000 for a return trip, reports The Times.

Last year, 1,389 jet charter services showed up, bringing the vast majority of WEF visitors in attendance with them. According to the aircraft charter services group Gama Aviation, the number of people that chose to charter a private jet into the Zurich, St. Gallen-Altenrhein and Samedan airports last year was 35% greater than the normal monthly average. 

In 2017, attendees preferred more expensive "heavy jets" to their lighter, nippier alternatives. “With the length of some of the journeys, these slightly larger aircraft would have been needed, but with such wealthy individuals attending, they can afford to use such aircraft from wherever they were coming – as well as the element of larger aircraft being seen as a status symbol,” said Andy Christie, director of private jets at Air Charter Service, reports City A.M

About 2,500 people are expected to attend, including US President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, President of France Macron and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. That equates to 218 jets per day, a more than 300% spike compared with the 65 daily flights the airports usually contend with. On the two busiest days of the World Economic Forum, 16 and 20 January, 251 and 301 flights will take off respectively, according to research by WingX, commissioned by Air Charter Service.

“They cannot afford the risk of not turning up because something goes wrong,” Clive Jackson, chief executive of Victor, a jet chartering app, said. “They can’t afford the inefficiency of having to hang around for a scheduled service.”

Zurich airport is the most popular choice for private arrivals, and many British delegates fly from Luton or Farnborough. Switzerland’s largest city is a helicopter ride or two-hour car journey from Davos. Flying privately can cost passengers $5,600 each on some charter services, although late bookings can cost even more.

PrivateFly is charging about $17,000 for an eight-seat overnight return journey from London to Zurich. It then charges $10,500 for a six-seat helicopter flight each way between Zurich and Davos. “You can’t run the risk of your chief exec not being there,” Adam Twidell, chief executive of PrivateFly, said. He added that private jets were popular among clients who did not want to be overheard.

Top countries involved in terms of arrivals in and departures out of the airports were Germany, France and the UK. The US came in fourth spot with 41 arrivals and 51 departures. Russia and UAE were also in the top 10 most popular, out of more than 30 countries in total, reports Conference News.

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