With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic irrevocably changing what it means – and looks like – to fly commercial, incentives for choosing private jet travel have never been higher. And respected Carlsbad-based charter operator and aircraft management company, Schubach Aviation, has been perfectly poised to meet this growing demand. Based at McClellan-Palomar Airport, Schubach has been a Southern California “jet-setter” go-to for almost thirty years – it’s fleet of 12 charter aircraft regularly whisking passengers away to destinations like Palm Springs, West Palm Beach, Paris, and London
President and CEO Kimberly Herrell, who acquired the company from founder Henry Schubach just six weeks before Covid-19 hit, shared that while there has been an increase of first-time private flyer inquiries, the pandemic really put relationships with long-term clients in perspective.
Schubach President & CEO Kimberly Herrell shot by Monica Hoover
“We initially saw about a 70 percent decline in operations in April, and although we operated some flights, it was pretty quiet. As soon as hotels started opening back up, we saw a jump in demand, which has subtly increased. We’re now pretty much flying the fleet at full capacity again.”
Herrell, an 18 year veteran of the private jet industry, attributes this organic comeback and growth to the trust built with clients – their longest-standing passenger has been flying with them for 25 years – alongside stringent but subtly implemented new safety protocols. While aircraft were always professionally detailed after each flight, now CDC recommended cleaning products are being used. They are covid testing pilots every two to four weeks, and passengers must fill out Schubach’s online screening form 24-hours before departure.
Photo Credit: Brent Haywood
A Cut Above the Rest
“The way we responded to the pandemic just goes back to how we handle our usual safety ratings,” explains Herrell. “It’s a natural extension of how we are as a company. We’re just keeping passengers safe in a new way now for even more ‘end to end peace of mind’ with minimal contact, car service, and the option to arrive a few minutes before departure.”
Private aviation affords an inherent sense of safety in a Covid-19 world and with many people having no plans to fly commercial in the foreseeable future, Herrell shared the company has also seen an uptick in inquiries from those looking to make the leap from booking block-time to ownership.
“Ownership comes with more availability, privacy, and a sense of freedom, so demand is high right now. As an aircraft management company, we offer a total step by the step aviation experience and complete oversight to the buying process – including placing an aircraft in charter service to offset buying costs and generate revenue.”
In response to demand, Herrell has recently been crisscrossing the country for clients to look at aircraft, including Cessna’s Citation CJ3 (an economical entry-level option for first-time buyers), the Gulfstream G550, and Bombardier Challenger 300, which has trans-continental range.
Although flights to most of Europe are currently off the cards to American travelers, Herrell shared that some island destinations were opening back up, including the Turks and Caicos, where Schubach recently flew passengers assisting with every aspect of the Covid-19 regulation requirements for entry. Closer to home, in-demand summer destinations include Montana – where Bozeman, Big Sky, and the Yellowstone Club are major draws – and Lake Tahoe, which has seen a recent rise in popularity.
And while Hawaii and Mexico continue to be staples, fans of Baja California Sur – and anyone in the mood for the Cabo vacation to end all vacations – will want to get Schubach’s new Private Passport to Pedregal travel package on their radar. The super-luxe low exposure experience entails a private round-trip flight into Cabo San Lucas International Airport with a seven-night stay in an Ocean View Suite at the exclusive five-star enclave.
“We have worked with numerous hospitality partners on different one day experiences over the years. The package with Pedregal came from their desire to offer this completely private guest experience”, explains Herrell. “Passengers take the jet to Los Cabos, and they’re whisked away to this amazing ocean view suite with a private plunge pool and personal butler service. We rolled it out three weeks ago, but it’s already in big demand.”
Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal