The rich really are bugging out…

Small countries are taking extreme measures to halt international travel in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Those accustomed to private jet travel are used to demanding what they want and getting it. As a result, private jet flights escaping from and running to resort countries, such as those in the Caribbean, are currently in high demand and they do not always occur under the most lawful of circumstances.

The most wealthy among us are trying to get around flight bans with private jet flights as they are desperate to get into or home from Caribbean countries, many of which have partial or full international travel bans. Those with complete bans include Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. Partial international travel bans are in effect for Belize, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbados, Saint Lucia, Grenada, and Venezuela. These countries are home to many affluent expatriates. The money some of them spend on private jet flights is staggering. One round trip to Europe in a Gulfstream 550 jet from the United States with five passengers can easily cost the client six figures.

With the world being crippled in many ways by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ultra-wealthy still have places to be and airline options are not only becoming restrictive, they are dwindling. Rumors currently abound of private jet pilots, both from charter operations and private flight departments, being offered large bonuses to get into and out of Caribbean resort countries undetected and bypassing customs and port of entry requirements. While not impossible, it’s an extremely risky game to play.

Privately owned or chartered aircraft operate on demand, when and where their clients or owners need them. Private jet pilots have a “bag of tricks” that airline pilots don’t, including late-night flights to closed airports, low altitude VFR flights, tricks to bypass arrival lines, departing under visual flight rules (VFR) to avoid lengthy departure routing and many others. And that’s the list of legal options. With so much money on the line, less than reputable private jet operators undoubtedly have a less than legal bag of tricks.

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Yesterday in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Mayor Cynthia Viteri resorted to stopping flights at Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport by directing that ground vehicles be parked on the runway. The action is alleged to have been taken to stop two airliners, one each from KLM and Iberia, from arriving from Europe. Video footage from a Robinson helicopter has surfaced, overflying the parked vehicles.