Grounded commercial flights create a boon for private jets

A RAFT of private jet and helicopter companies have cashed in on the chaos generated by thousands of grounded commercial liners as they transported stranded business passengers to and from mainland Europe.

Operators, including NetJets, Ocean Sky and Jet Aviation have seen the number of requests sky rocket as most of Europe continues to face crippling flying restrictions.

NetJets, which owns a fleet of more than 150 aircraft in Europe, said 20 per cent of its planes are still able to fly. The company has already made multiple journeys to and from safe airports.

The private jet rental company said yesterday that in-bound queries from passengers were up over 60 per cent on last week.

Ocean Sky, which specialises in luxury private jets, also said that it had received a sharp increase in the number of enquiries for its services from both business and leisure passengers.

Steve Grimes, chief executive said: “We have seen a sharp increase in the number of enquiries, both business and leisure.

“Whilst we have been successful in moving passengers around in the unrestricted areas we still have to abide by the regulations which we are following closely.”

Grimes said that Ocean Sky has aircraft and crew in position for when the flight restrictions are removed.

Ocean Sky has a fleet of 30 aircraft and operates out of Luton and Manchester airports.

A spokesperson from the company said that it was currently operating a small percentage of its fleet.

Meanwhile, Zurich based Jet Aviation said that call volumes have been steep and are coming mainly from business passengers hoping to return to the US.

Ironically, while Delta Air Lines had to scuttle most commercial flights, its subsidiary Delta Air Elite was busy.

Air lines such as British Airways, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and BMI had intended to resume flights yesterday but a second volcanic ash cloud prevented them until late evening.