Come fly with me
US: It’s been compared to hailing a taxi. Businesspeople use their smartphones to organize flights on private jets, saving time and flying in comfort compared to using commercial airlines. For private aviation companies, it’s a way of making full use of planes that could be empty on at least one leg of their journey.
JetSmarter, one of a growing number of private jet services, has an annual membership fee that provides travellers with the chance to fly on empty legs. New York art-gallery owner Aaron Smart is one of JetSmarter’s clients. “I’ve done Fort Lauderdale to Teterboro [New Jersey] for free, which would normally be $15,000,” Smart told The New York Times. “It saves time. You park for free, get on the plane and go.”
"It saves time. You park for free, get on the plane and go." Aaron Smart
JetSmarter’s 26-year-old CEO, Sergey Petrossov, says that the company’s $7,000 membership fee is a big saving compared with owning your own jet. “Private jets today aren’t looked at as a luxury tool; they’re a productivity tool,” Petrossov commented. “Time is money. You are eliminating hours from your journey.”
Magellan Jets is another start-up that uses technology to match customers with planes via an iPhone app. The company guarantees its customers will fly within 10 hours in the US and 24 hours in Europe, using the facilities of 95 jet providers. Thanks to the internet, “it takes us seconds to find this availability”, company president Anthony Tivnan said.
BlackJet also matches customers with empty jets. CEO Dean Rotchin says that ticket prices are comparable to first-class tickets on commercial airlines. But he adds that private jets “are much more reliable. It takes off when it’s supposed to. You drive up to the airplane. Fifteen minutes and you’re in the air,” Rotchin says.