Since the beginning of the pandemic, the demand for private air travel has increased worldwide as travelers pay attention to the safety and luxury of private air travel.
This is especially true in the Caribbean, where private airports abound and choosing a private airline is often the best (and only) way to get to certain coveted destinations.
What does the process actually look like? And how do you book a private flight to the Caribbean?
To find out more, the Caribbean Journal caught up with David Zipkin, co-owner and vice president of Tradewind Aviation, one of the world’s leading private jet companies and one of the most important aviation companies in the Caribbean. (Tradewind also offers commercial liner services to a number of destinations, particularly to the island of St. Barth).
How has the pandemic changed the demand for private jet travel?
The pandemic has changed private aviation in several ways. First, there is greater overall demand, driven by a desire to avoid exposure to the virus at airports and airlines. In addition, we’ve seen a 50 percent increase in new private travel since the pandemic began. Another shift concerns travel behavior. Employees have more time flexibility, so we see less pressure on traditionally busy days and more demand during rest periods. We expect this trend to continue at least through the summer, with remote work continuing or many people working.
Do you see different customers than you used to?
Yes, we have seen a significant increase in new private travel customers. We are particularly well positioned for this, as our Pilatus PC-12 private flights are cheaper than your traditional private jets.
Where does Tradewind fly in the Caribbean, both regularly and chartered?
In our Pilatus PC-12 fleet, we offer private charter flights throughout the Caribbean. We can fly to and from the US islands anywhere; Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Croix and our favorite destinations are St. Barths, Anguilla, Nevis and the BVI. We also offer private jet flights to the Caribbean on our fleet of Citation CJ3 jets.
In a Citation CJ3 jet.
Let’s say I live in New York or Miami. What aircraft options do I have to fly to the Caribbean privately?
From New York or Miami, flying privately to the Caribbean on one of our Citation CJ3 jets is an excellent option. If the destination has a small runway, we will do a seamless “wing-to-wing” transfer to one of our Pilatus PC-12 planes for a quick trip to a smaller island.
What if I go to an island like St. Barth? Can I book both stages with you?
Yes, we offer the complete journey with both aircraft and the seamless “wing to wing” transfer. In addition, we have several promotions with top real estate and villa rental agencies that offer free catering, ground transportation and special amenities at the destination.
A Tradewind Pilatus PC-12.
Are you working with Caribbean villa companies or hotels on flight / accommodation packages?
We do! A full summary of the current promotions can be found here: https://www.flytradewind.com/news-press/#promotions We have promotions with WIMCO villas, the Carl Gustaf Hotel and the Le Barthelemy Hotel. Hotel Manapany, Le Toiny, Villa Marie, St. Bath Properties and Le Sereno on St. Barth. For Anguilla we have a promotion with the Belmond Cap Julica and the Four Seasons.
What is the typical price structure for a round trip to the Caribbean?
The price depends heavily on the routing. Maimi to the Eastern Caribbean (Puerto Rico, BVI, St. Kitts) costs around $ 16-19,000 each way. For closer destinations such as the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, prices drop to 10 to 15,000 US dollars each way.
David Zipkin, Vice President and Co-Owner of Tradewind Aviation.
Do you offer memberships or club options?
We do! Our most popular program is our Goodspeed card, which offers a discount of up to 15% on our Pilatus PC-12 fleet. The two service regions are 300 miles from San Juan Airport and Westchester Airport to the northeast.
Of course, private jet travel seems safer right now. What other measures does Passat take to ensure the safety of guests?
We have put in place rigorous protocols and procedures to ensure the health and safety of our passengers and crew, from additional aircraft cleaning (deep cleaning at night and disinfection between each flight) to pre-flight passenger checks, mask protocols and crew health checks. In addition, it should be noted that the cabin air of Tradewind aircraft is constantly renewed with fresh air from outside during the flight. The air entering the cabin is compressed and heated by the engine, which kills all germs in the air before it is cooled to cabin temperature. Our planes exchange cabin air every 2 to 6 minutes.
For more information, see Tradewind Aviation.