Private jet charter operator PrivateFly recently released an analysis of flight activity to the Caribbean, tracking the jet stream of the Super Rich. Reported figures indicated there were 12,566 charter flights to the ten busiest Caribbean airports alone during last winter, the high season for Caribbean travel. Based on available data on average “destination spend” (excluding fuel and landing fees) by private jet travellers there was some $867 million in spending to the destinations where the top ten airports were located.
Nassau, St. Maarten and Turks and Caicos led the way, accounting for half of those flights, with 6,922 arrivals and spending of nearly $478 million. The top destination was Nassau, where private jet charter fliers alone brought $278 million. The remaining 7 of the top 10 included two other Bahamian Islands, Abaco (5) and North Eleuthera (8); with the others being San Juan, St. Thomas, Bermuda, Anguilla and Cayman.
Douglas Gollan, Group President and Editor-in-Chief of Elite Traveler Magazine says, “We continue to see the Caribbean as one of the preferred destinations for our readers, especially those travelling by private jets and mega-yachts.” Elite Traveler Magazine tracks the jet stream of the super rich and chronicles the vacations and purchasing habits of affluent travellers across the world. He added, “When one considers the above numbers represent only 33 to 50 percent of total private aviation activity to the region and only the ten busiest airports, it shows the huge opportunity for destinations and resorts to increase their share of super rich winter travel spending.” Carol Cork, Head of Marketing at PrivateFly, confirms that charter is only a portion of private jet activity – the rest being owned jets and fractionally owned jets.
The [Bahamas Ministry of Tourism](http://www.bahamas.com) maintains a strategy of targeting high income private flyers. Aviation Specialist Greg Rolle says it is a part of the ministry’s objectives to make the country number one in private aviation. “Our private aviation objectives are two-fold: to increase general aviation traffic and expenditure and to expose more Bahamians to business opportunities in the general aviation industry,” He added, “These numbers and revenue assure us that private pilots are coming to The Bahamas and the three Bahamas islands mentioned in the ranking all have fixed based operators (FBOs) that are owned and operated by Bahamians.” The companies credited for the number-one position include Odyssey Aviation and Executive Flight Support in Nassau, Cherokee Aviation in Abaco and White Crown Aviation in Eleuthera.
The Ministry’s aviation marketing efforts encompass outreaches towards private pilots and, in fact, its strategy includes aggressively building relationships with all major aviation executives; e.g. through the [Bahamas Flying Ambassadors](http://www.bahamas.com/flying-ambassadors) programme. It has formed relationships with aviation clubs, associations, aviation schools, FBOs, the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association – all creating more awareness of the general aviation market, its value to the Bahamian economy, and career/business opportunities for Bahamians.