Dallas – With the rapidly approaching U.S. midterm elections comes an opportunity to examine one of the more dynamic and unique aspects of the aviation industry, the charter sector.
From handling political campaigns and roadshows (book tours, concert tours, etc.) to family vacations and business trips, the charter industry accommodates a wide variety of travelers with a diverse array of logistical needs.
Charter brokers like Advanced Aviation Team (AAT) coordinate flights with a high degree of specificity to fulfill the requests of clients with complex itineraries.
In an exclusive interview with Airways, Gregg Brunson-Pitts, former director of the White House Travel Office and current CEO of AAT, described the logistical process behind political campaigns along with the broader trends impacting the charter industry, from the pilot shortage and aircraft availability to increased demand for roadshows and intercontinental travel.
Brent Foster (BF): How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the charter business for AAT?
Gregg Brunson-Pitts (GBP): It’s been interesting. When COVID originally hit, we took a pretty dramatic dip, like a lot of people. Most of our flights completely stopped for a while.
Then, we experienced a pretty big uptick in demand, taking on some new customers, people who were interested in private charters who wanted to stay away from the airlines for a variety of reasons. Primarily because they wanted a safe and private environment.
They wanted to utilize private aviation when travel reopened. We had an initial dip in business with COVID followed by a huge pop.
Was the uptick in business as the COVID-19 restrictions eased concentrated around individual and business or roadshow and campaign flights?
It was a little bit of both. In 2020, we had a very big focus on political campaigns. We did bring in some new clients who were people who came off the sidelines and who had considered private aviation before and maybe given it a look, but because of the pandemic, decided to give it a try.
So we did pick up some clients there who were mainly families or individuals or small businesses. 2020 was a campaign and election year, so a lot of business went to that. 2021 and going into this year, coming out of the pandemic, a lot of the tours and roadshows have come back which has been great.
Focusing on political campaigns, how are the aviation-related logistics of political campaigns coordinated? How does AAT coordinate the hectic schedules of candidates with numerous campaign stops?
To keep reading, subscribe today and you'll never miss our exclusive content. Airways Premium Members get full access to incisive articles and analyses from aviation experts and industry insiders.
Featured image: Gregg Brunson-Pitts, founder and CEO of Advanced Aviation Team (AAT). Photo: Advanced Aviation Team
Northern Italy’s main international airport is getting more than a facelift. The history of Honduras’ long gone national airline. The nicest holiday-ornamented airports worldwide, and much more in the new issue of Airways Magazine.
December 2022$8.99 – $13.95