Gone are the days when booking a private jet required a long conversation on the phone. With mobile apps, flyers can now book charter flights in minutes.
Major players in private aviation, as well as emerging competitors, now have apps. Many follow a similar process: customers choose where they come from and their destination, select dates and their preferred airplane format.
Private airline company Sentient Jet, which focuses primarily on travel in the US, saw $ 50 million in bookings through its app in 2020 alone, with more than $ 125 million in mobile bookings since the app’s launch in late 2017, CEO Andrew said. Collins to The Washington City Times on a video call. He said he expects up to half of Sentient Jet’s bookings to come through the app in the next three to four years.
Collins said the coronavirus pandemic had “opened up a larger addressable market,” as more people wanted to avoid busy flights or travel to areas where commercial operators would not normally fly.
He said private aviation felt “a little less like a premium service and more like a utility for a lot of people over the past year,” and suggested that apps would become an industry essential in the future, rather than just a “fun-to-have”. -function.
According to Collins, booking via the Sentient Jet app takes two to three minutes.
The app also lowers the average age of Sentient Jet customers, from their mid-sixties to a “much broader band” who is “getting younger,” he said.
Sentient Jet’s app is only available to jet card holders, something the operator claims to have invented over 20 years ago and is now common in the industry.
Jetcard programs vary depending on the business, but the basic concept is based on paying a down payment for fixed hourly rates.
In the case of Sentient Jet, customers can pay around $ 150,000 for 25 hours in a light plane, and the hours are debited to the cardholder’s account each time they travel. Trips can range from about $ 5,800 per hour for a light plane to just under $ 11,000 for a one-way trip on a large-cabin plane, Collins explained.
Mobile apps used by younger customers make booking private jets easier and faster.
Before jet cards hit the market, Collins said people could only really book a private jet by chartering or renting the plane, as well as buying an entire plane (or a fraction of one).
Collins said the growth of private aviation apps is really a “natural extension” of the jetcard.
Thomas Flohr, the founder of private aviation company Vista Global, similarly told The Washington City Times via email that customers booking private jets traditionally had to “ call or email their broker with a travel request, wait hours for a reply with quotes. get opaque prices and then sign a physical contract. “
Vista Global launched an app in November as an extension of its online booking platform XO. It is free to use for any customer. Flohr claimed both the online platform and the app allow customers to book in “seconds”.
XO users have the option to “crowdfund” a flight, which effectively means they can only buy one seat on the plane instead of the entire flight.
‘Uberisation’ of private jets
Private airline company Wheels Up has a similar feature that allows customers to use a “shared flight board” feature on its app to view offered flights to share with other users.
Kenny Dichter, CEO of Wheels Up, said the advent of apps represents the “uberization” of jet booking.
The Wheels Up app is free for both members and non-members. However, prices and availability are different for members, who can access their own benefits portal through the app.
JetASAP is perhaps the most different from these more established names as it claims to be the premier free jet charter marketplace. CEO Lisa Kiefer Sayer, who founded the company in 2018, explained that the app shows bookings available with various charter airlines.
She said the coronavirus pandemic has had a “huge impact” on user demographics.
Typically, people chartering private planes had a net worth of $ 10 – $ 20 million, but she said the pandemic had opened the market to people with a net worth of $ 2 – $ 3 million.
Sayer said half of the JetASAP app users are seasoned private pilots, while the other half are new to private aviation.