Route Awakening

Tracking the Frack Daddies

Houston has some of the fastest-growing private jet routes in the world—so where are the jet set going?

By Katharine Shilcutt May 3, 2015 Published in the May 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

As part of our ongoing effort at helping Houstonians weather an economy that of late has been oscillating wildly between healthy and robust, this magazine has instituted a number of measures meant to ease the pain of the current situation. In addition to projecting a sunniness bordering on the quixotic, and imposing a temporary ban on words like “plummeting” and “layoffs,” we are scouring the city for any indication, however small, that our troubles are temporary. 

To that end, we were pleased to discover recently that the noted consulting firm of Knight Frank, in its annual “Wealth Report,” had determined that Houston continues to have a high concentration of jetsetters—that is, people who take a lot of private jets. Indeed, the news is good on that front, so good that the fact that no one here had previously heard of either Knight Frank or its Wealth Report did not in the least diminish our excitement. 

A top-10 list in the most happily reductive sense, the report dubs the Houston–to–New York City private jet route the ninth most popular in the world (the vaguely troubling Moscow-to-Nice route is No. 1). Even more impressive is Houston’s showing on an accompanying list of the 10 fastest-growing private jet routes, on which the Bayou City appears three times—more than any other metropolis in the world. Where are we traveling? West Palm Beach (No. 5), Midland (No. 7) and Washington, DC (No. 10).

Eighty percent of our jetsetters are men, according to the company that helped Knight Frank compile its data, NetJets, an airline service provider that was also news to us. Most are in oil and gas or finance, as you might imagine. Midland’s popularity can be traced to the fracking of its rich oil fields, and DC’s to the rich energy lobbyists who pump wells of a different kind. As for West Palm Beach, well, that’s where Houston’s energy execs spend some of the enormous wealth generated by the joint efforts of fracking and Congress. At least for now. 

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