Tradewind Aviation’s David Zipkin on What’s Next for Private Air Travel

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If you’re looking to visit luxe destinations like St Barth, Anguilla and Nevis in style, there’s long been one way to do it: a flight on Tradewind Aviation. 

The luxury carrier, which has a hub in San Juan, is the leading carrier to St Barth, and has a growing network of scheduled flights to exclusive getaways around the region — along with private charter service across the Caribbean. (That’s along with a strong network in the in the Northeastern United States, with destinations like Stowe, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard). 

In the age of COVID-19, demand for private air travel is growing — to learn more, we talked to David Zipkin, vice president of Tradewind, to see what’s next for the industry and his airline. 

Obviously the last few months have been hard.  What’s your outlook for the future?

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a constantly changing landscape for travel but the future is starting to come into focus. The traditional airline experience will be a hard sell for a while so there is increasing demand for private and semi-private flying, particularly in our domestic markets where stay and home orders have been lifted. 

What about the Caribbean?

For the Caribbean, summer demand is hard to estimate as most people are waiting to see what the requirements will be when travel restrictions are lifted.  If the island has a good protocol in place that allows for a safe and enjoyable vacation then we will see an increase in demand, although somewhat hampered by the fact that most hotels are closed until the fall. The villa rental market will be the major driver this summer, and perhaps a trend that continues into the fall and winter.

Which Caribbean destinations will be the first you’ll relaunch?

The first of our scheduled destinations is St Barth, which just reopened for tourism on June 22. 

What changes are being made in aircraft cleaning and in the airport?

We have implemented a comprehensive plan to ensure the health and safety of our guests and crew.

Passengers are required to complete a health questionnaire prior to flying to declare that they are free of symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone known to have COVID.

Lounges are being cleaned and disinfected regularly throughout the day.

Our aircraft are undergoing an extensive cleaning and disinfecting regimen in accordance with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All aircraft surfaces have been treated with EnviroSystems BioShield 75 Biostatic, which is an antimicrobial protectant that has been shown to be effective against viruses. Additionally, all aircraft are being disinfected and cleaned thoroughly before each flight and undergo Ozone treatments regularly.

Masks are required for passengers from check-in through destination arrival and worn by our ground crew and pilots when not flying the plane. We have also changed our boarding and deplaning process to load from the rear of the aircraft to front and unload from the front to back, avoiding close contact with other passengers. We have also removed all non-essential onboard materials such as our in-flight magazine and catering.

What are FBOs doing to ensure safety?

The FBOs are doing an excellent job to ensure health and safety. Facilities are being sanitized regularly, social distancing is enforced, sanitation stations have been implemented, and some of our FBO partners like Million Air at Westchester have significantly increase their capacity for self-parking

Can clients be assured of safe travel door to door?

The safety of our guests and employees has always been our top priority and while the risk of transmission is impossible to eliminate completely, our protocols and procedures minimize this risk to a very safe level.

For more, visit Tradewind Aviation

— CJ

 

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