With private travel becoming more prevalent due to the global pandemic, Upscale Living magazine spoke to Apertus Aviation Founder Ringo Fan about the impact it continues to have on the aviation industry.

Ringo, tell us a bit about yourself and Apertus Aviation.

I was brought up and educated in both Australia and Hong Kong, providing me with something of an international mindset. After almost a decade of developing a passion for aviation, I founded APERTUS Aviation in 2016 as a private jet charter consultancy firm. With headquarters in Hong Kong, our aim was to build a network of experts across the globe, delivering global knowledge within local reach. Our team has over 30 years of combined experience in private aviation with an entrenched relationship in the industry, promising to offer innovative, unparalleled, and highly effective charter flight management service to private jet users.

What made you venture into the aviation industry?

I have always been passionate about travel and fascinated by the aviation industry. Having been fortunate enough to travel frequently from a young age, whether studying abroad or through subsequent work, I became captivated by the tools available in the West, notably private jet travel, which seemed to provide the ultimate service: the ability to travel effortlessly, efficiently and comfortably at a moment’s notice.

When back in Asia, I began to realize my appreciation for the qualities of this industry and see the opportunity to develop this system in the East. This, paired with the industry’s fundamental purpose to bring people together, motivated me to better understand this amazing industry more and, later, enter it myself.

Apertus Aviation Founder Ringo Fan
Apertus Aviation Founder Ringo Fan

There has been an upsurge in demand for private aviation and chartered flights because of the global pandemic. What safety measures and protocol can clients expect when choosing Apertus Aviation?

Due to the nature of flying privately, including both reduced touchpoints with other people and cleanliness and service being paramount, our service is already deemed a pretty safe way to travel.

What we are seeing, though on the customer side, is an increase in requests for in-depth information regarding the journey. Whether about the plane itself (cleanliness, flight crew, travel history, etc.) or information about the destination (currency, local rules following the pandemic, etc.), due to our global team of regional experts, we have been able to provide this local knowledge to our clients, helping to strengthen our global network and in turn, improve our business.

From an industry perspective, on top of necessary quarantine measures being respected, we are seeing operators and brokers also partner up with high-tech cleaning services and products to ensure both the aircraft interior and exterior is effectively sterilized, mitigating any further risk of infection.

I assume flexibility is essential with lockdowns being reinstated in some countries because of a surge in the number of infections?

It’s incredibly important these days, yes. In recent months, we’ve observed a great increase in one-way bookings, with around 70% of booked flights in 2020 one-way. This allows travelers to shift gears and change plans even during their stay, keeping an eye on world events, outbreak levels, and quarantine guidelines. Travelers want the freedom to make changes when they arrive without any unnecessary worries.

Apertus Aviation Challenger 605
Apertus Aviation Challenger 605

What type of personalized service can travelers expect?

Our service at APERTUS has always been tailored around the customer and their needs, not just getting from point A to point B, but factoring in every part of the journey and their subsequent trip. Our network is far and wide, including experts positioned in each of our customer’s key destinations in order to offer an ultra-personalized, door-to-door experience that crosses not only international borders but the language and cultural barriers too.

Have requests for both business and holiday travel seen a marked increase?

Rather than an overall increase – with global travel still being substantially reduced – we see a shift in how our industry integrates into the fundamental concept of travel on both the leisure and business fronts.

For example, in terms of leisure travel, we’ve seen an enormous rise in ultra-private package holidays. These include air bubbles where you can keep your social distance with your own private party from the moment you leave home until you’re relaxing on your own stretch of private beach. This has led to a had a sharp increase in inquiries from luxury travel agents, customizing their tours and packages with private flying. From a more corporate side, we are seeing more corporations incorporate private travel into their operations. With increased efficiency, flexibility, privacy, and service, flying privately are becoming an essential tool for companies moving their executives around, both domestically and internationally.

And a rise in first-time travelers making use of private travel?

Indeed. As one of the largest changes we’ve seen in the past 9 months, this surge in first-time private flyers is notably individuals or corporations who might have possessed the means to fly privately but have until now chosen otherwise. Either way, it’s causing a ripple in the reach. 

There is also a trend for requesting smaller aircraft; what are the most popular planes your clients are currently choosing?

Yes, despite an increase in demand for larger aircraft in recent years, the pandemic has seen a sharp decline in aircraft size as travelers reduce the size of the groups they travel in, keeping passenger lists small and part of a tight social circle. Regarding the actual aircraft requested, this is varied per region as it is so dependent on the requirements for both the traveler and trip. The Gulfstream G200 is a popular model, though, especially in China as something of an all-rounder.

Another difference worth noting is that we are seeing more emphasis being placed on the psychological element to the customer decision-making process. Our clients are being more mindful about the types of aircraft requested based on it being more ‘purposeful’ for their needs, not just about how luxurious the aircraft is.

Are you hopeful that this increase in private travel will be a thing of the future, even when things are back to ‘normal,’ whenever that might be?

Absolutely. Whilst it feels like some of the benefits of flying privately – the ability to avoid large crowds and minimize contact with others, for example – are proving invaluable only in current times, we have no doubt the value being seen in the increased flexibility, attention to detail and tractability of the service is going to continue to be a major pull to customers as everyone adapts to the new normal in the longer term.