A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jan 20, 2015

Davos: 1,700 Private Jets Fly 2,500 to Forum on Decarbonizing the Economy

It's time for the billionaires' Woodstock and Swiss air traffic control is stressed.

Sure, the focus of this year's event is on decarbonizing the economy, but that doesn't mean participants actually have time to practice what they preach: that's for the little people.

And besides, the decline in oil prices means even second tier companies and third tier nations can afford to send their leaders via private jet.

Hey, don't be so cynical: maybe there's a ride-sharing program like those in coffee houses or university student centers. You know, lift needed to Davos to opine on important global issues: will supply bordeaux and caviar in lieu of cash.

But it's not really fair to mock these good folks when you think about the sacrifices they're making: taking time out of their busy schedules to make the world a better place for undeserving wretches like you to live in. What have you done for the global carbon footprint recently: converted over to kegs from six packs?

So yeah, you might want to think about rescheduling if you're headed to Switzerland this week. With even the hoi polloi flying private, the skies are going to be more crowded than ever and that can be so inconvenient. JL

Alanna Petroff reports in CNN/Money:

VistaJet charges between $10,000 and $15,000 per hour to use its planes. Founder Thomas Flohr said customers that book a long-haul journey to Davos can get a helicopter ride for free.
Look to the skies this week in Switzerland and you'll see the heavens are cluttered with private jets.
Billionaires and world leaders from across the globe are flying en masse to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland -- and they insist on traveling in style.
Roughly 1,700 private flights are expected over the course of the week, which is twice as many as normal, according to WINGX Advance, a tracking firm. Traffic is expected to rise 5% compared to last year's event.
Private jet companies have warned clients to plan ahead, as securing spots for landing, take-off and parking can become a logistical nightmare.
"Because last year was so busy, private jet customers know ... that they have to book in advance," said Adam Twidell, CEO of the online jet booking company, PrivateFly. His firm helped clients secure about 20 flights for the event, which starts Wednesday.

swiss airport
These Swiss airports see the most private jet traffic during the World Economic Forum, according to WINGX Advance.
The main Zurich airport handles two-thirds of private jet travel for Davos-bound attendees, and a spokesperson said airport traffic surges by roughly 10% during this period.
Zurich airport authorities have reserved roughly 60 parking spots exclusively for Davos-related jet traffic, but it hasn't been enough. All the spots were booked well in advance.
For the first time, the Swiss Armed Forces opened up its Dübendorf military airport to private jet passengers, and many top world leaders are expected to go through this base.
Other popular airports include St. Gallen-Altenrhein and Engadin, though industry insiders said they are sometimes avoided due to regular weather-related disruptions.
Related: The 2015 billionaire social calendar
Demand for helicopters also skyrockets during Davos.
On average, the Zurich airport handles five helicopter flights per day. But when the Davos event was on last year, helicopter traffic surged to 54 flights on a single busy day.
Nearly 200 helicopter flights went through the Zurich airport during the last Davos event. Those helicopters carried 500 passengers, which is mind-boggling considering the event only hosts 2,500 attendees.
Private jet company NetJets forecasts that it will operate about 80 flights in and out of the region over the week, up 4% compared to last year.
Meanwhile, another private jet company, VistaJet, expects bookings for Davos travel will roughly double compared to last year, up to about 20 flights.
VistaJet charges between $10,000 and $15,000 per hour to use its planes. Founder Thomas Flohr said customers that book a long-haul journey to Davos can get a helicopter ride for free.


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