Mark Wahlberg, Rita Ora and Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick among clients of former T4 star Giles Vickers-Jones’s Ashford private jet firm
A former TV star who grew up in Kent has spent the last nine years flying A-list actors and football players across the world.
But now Giles Vickers-Jones, co-founder of private flight brokerage Shy Aviation, believes the luxurious world of private jets will become a serious consideration for others who have enough disposable income and still want to travel abroad.
Since lockdown began, the 43-year-old has noticed an increase in the number of groups coming together to pay the high costs of chartering a flight instead of booking with an airline like British Airways.
He said: “I think going forward there will be more people clubbing together, that’s definitely going to happen.
“We have it all through the summer – groups of friends travelling, families, who all chip in. Three families all chuck in £4,000, suddenly you’re getting to where you want to get to.
“Is it cost effective versus getting on an EasyJet? No, but you’re on your own aircraft, you’re going where you want.
“It’s a really strange market because no one knows it exists. It’s like a subculture but there’s something like 20,000 jets being flown daily.”
Just last week, EasyJet announced it was on course to make a pre-tax loss of more than £800million, demanding a support package for the airline industry.
It comes as all airline companies grapple with the challenge of navigating through a world marred by coronavirus, with flight restrictions and mandatory quarantining periods stopping people from flying.
In June, the International Air Transport Association predicted industry losses could top $84bn in 2020.
Even if restrictions are reduced in the coming months, Giles believes those who can afford it may want to fly without the danger associated with travelling alongside other members of the public.
“I don’t think commercial is dead by any means, it’s just on hiatus – I think it’ll come back. It’s just tough right now.”
Last time the Ashford-born TV star appeared on KentOnline was in 2008 for his lavish OK! Magazine wedding in the Cotswolds.
Known for his appearances on T4 and ITV2, Giles left the glitz of the TV industry behind to pursue his new career.
He said: “I just got to the point where I wanted to do other stuff, y’know, I was getting a bit older and I had a kid.
“I was probably in it for the wrong reasons, probably out of ego and vanity rather than being the best broadcaster in the world.”
He stumbled on his new calling by chance, during a chat with a friend.
He said: “My mate happened to manage aircraft for a living and he said ‘look Giles if you know anyone rich, famous, the usual suspects who might be able to afford a private jet, let us know’.
“Funnily enough, I did know someone who can afford it, and that was Mark Wahlberg, and he was one of our first clients.”
Since then, business has boomed for Giles and his business partner Scott Sullivan, who have flown everyone from Ed Westwick to Rita Ora.
The aviation entrepreneur said: “You just pick an actor and we probably fly them.
“Footballers too – the transfer window just happened last weekend and we were frantic moving people all around Europe and getting them to sign before the transfer window finished.”
Could you afford a private jet?
To find out how feasible it would be to charter a trip with SY Aviation, we asked Giles what it would cost to fly from Biggin Hill to Ibiza.
For a short weekend break and return, the journey would set you back around £12,000, so four couples splitting the cost could make the trip with a cool £3,000.
But a private flight from Biggin Hill to New York City would dent the bank account considerably more.
Giles said: “You could probably do a return anywhere between £70,000 and £100,000.
“You can get 12 people on there, so maybe £9,000 to £10,000 each.
“But you’re on a private aircraft, you’re taking off when you want, you’re choosing the food you want.”
The business was launched in 2011 and now has three offices – one in Toronto, one in New York and a headquarters in London.
Giles now lives in London but regularly visits his mum and dad, who live in Canterbury and Herne Bay.
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