The use of private jets by corporations and deep-pocketed individuals worldwide skyrocketed after late 2001, a timesaving trend fueled by the desire to bypass long security lines endured by commercial airline passengers. Often, civilian aircraft use smaller airports, allowing passengers to avoid the congestion of major hubs and access suburban business centers more easily. In Bermuda, the leasing and purchase of an increasing number of private jets can also be attributed to the gargantuan growth of the island’s reinsurance market since 9/11.
If the billions of dollars in capital injection isn’t actually visible to the average Bermudian, the daily lineup of sleek Gulfstreams, Hawkers, and Lear jets along the airport’s northern perimeter presents an undeniable snapshot of the hefty wealth injection. Resident and visiting celebrities (Michael Douglas, John Travolta) have always traveled this way, and today a handful of Bermudians count themselves among such high-income globetrotters. The bulk of private arrivals are corporate, as CEOs of Hamilton-based multinational corporations zip between meetings in New York, Zurich, and London, or host on-island gatherings. While many Bermuda-headquartered companies own executive aircraft, more are opting for lease arrangements, “air shares,” or other forms joint ownership.
Passengers arriving by private jet still have to be checked by Customs and the Department of Immigration, but they are quickly processed in a small, separate terminal at L. F. Wade International Airport in an efficient operation run by a private company, Bermuda Aviation Services (BAS) (tel. 441/293-5067). Pilots of private planes liaise with BAS prior to departure from mainland airports.
A Bermudian company, Longtail Aviation (tel. 441/293-5971, info [at] longtailaviation [dot] bm, www.longtailaviation.bm ), offers executive charter flights aboard Bermuda-registered aircraft based on the island. Established in 1999, the company offers service to North America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and beyond, aboard its various jets, including a Falcon 900, six-seater Westwind II, and King Air 350 and 200 models.