Many companies are aiming to brand themselves as the Uber of private jets, but the charter broker segment of private jet travel is facing numerous obstacles to be the next Air Uber.
David Fox, the CEO of Stellar Labs, is working on integrated flight operations software and says the private jet charter market is the “last travel segment not to be digitalized,” making it difficult to a concept like Uber to materialize.
Eymeric Segard, the founder and CEO of Geneva, Switzerland-based LunaJets said his customers spend an average of $22,000 per flight and in return want “perfect service.” While Craig Ross, founder, and CEO of Aviation Portfolio, a consultancy that advises upscale customers who fly via on-demand charter, jet cards, fractional ownership, and leases, says he believes that the future for charter brokers who offer knowledgeable travel and wealth management advisors is relatively secure.
Per Marthinsson, founder and managing director of Avinode, a B2B version of Kayak, said the Uber analogy is faulty. He says apps are “just the tip of the iceberg.” First, he said Uber attracted a whole new supply of drivers and automobiles into the taxi market, while in private aviation, “there’s no adjacent pools of aircraft,” and there’s a pilot shortage.
Jet Uber Complications
The industry experts agree that customers paying between $5,000 and $15,000 per hour to fly only want specific aircraft types. They also want the personal guarantees that human brokers afford.
The average transaction on Avinode, for example, is $22,600 compared to under $15 for Uber, according to Marthinsson, and while the rideshare cars are nearby, providing private jets for a flight is much more complicated. He says 30% of reservations are made within 72 hours of departure, and customers may suddenly want to leave earlier or delay their departure.
Marthinsson believes there many areas brokers and operators need to advance when it comes to technology. Many still require customers to fax photocopies of their credit cards. Executives say technology will play a major role in improving communication between brokers and operators in terms of crew scheduling or catering.
Booking an Air Charter
While online booking options are already available for consumers, executives say that behind the scenes, unlike Uber, there are still many tasks that need human eyes and have yet to be automated. Adam Twidell, CEO of PrivateFly and Skyjet, says that brokers “need to make it easier to book and fly.” Adding that customers want both digital and human expertise.
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