Do you want to book a private flight? There is an application for that

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Gone are the days when booking a private jet required a long conversation on the phone. Now, mobile apps allow flyers to book charter flights in minutes.

The main players in private aviation, as well as emerging competitors, now have applications. Many follow a similar process: customers choose where they are coming from and where they are going, select the dates and size of their preferred aircraft.

Private aviation company Sentient Jet, which focuses primarily on travel to the United States, recorded $ 50 million in bookings through its app in 2020 alone, with more than $ 125 million in mobile bookings since. app launch in late 2017, CEO Andrew Collins told TBEN on a video call. He said he expects up to half of Sentient Jet’s bookings to be made through its app in the next three to four years.

Collins said the coronavirus pandemic had “unlocked a larger addressable market,” as more people sought to avoid congested flights or go to areas where commercial operators typically wouldn’t fly.

He said private aviation had “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 essential to the business. industry in the future, instead of just being a “must-have”.

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Booking through the Sentient Jet app takes two to three minutes, according to Collins.

The app also lowers the average age of Sentient Jet customers, from those around 60, to a “much larger group” who are “getting younger,” he said.

‘Natural extension’

Sentient Jet’s app is only available to its jet card holders, which the operator claims to have invented over 20 years ago and is now common in the industry.

Jet card programs vary by company, but the basic concept is to pay a deposit for fixed hourly rates.

In the case of Sentient Jet, customers can pay around $ 150,000 for 25 hours on a light aircraft, and the hours are debited from the cardholder’s account each time they travel. Travel can range from around $ 5,800 an hour for a light aircraft to just under $ 11,000 for a one-way large-cabin plane, Collins explained.

Before jet cards hit the market, Collins said people could only really book a private jet by chartering or leasing the plane, as well as buying an entire plane (or a fraction of it). a).

Collins said the growth of applications in private aviation is truly a “natural extension” of the jet card.

Thomas Flohr, the founder of private aviation company Vista Global, also told TBEN via email that traditionally customers booking private jets had to “call or email their broker with a travel request, wait hours to get a response with quotes, receive opaque prices, and then sign a physical contract. “

Vista Global launched an app in November as an extension to its XO online booking platform. It is free for any customer. Flohr claimed both the platform and the online application allow customers to book in “seconds”.

XO users have the option of “crowdfunding” a flight, which essentially allows them to purchase a single seat on the plane instead of the entire flight.

“ Uberization ” of private jets

Private aviation company Wheels Up offers a similar feature that allows customers to use a ‘shared flight board’ feature on its app to view offered flights and share them with other users.

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Kenny Dichter, CEO of Wheels Up, said the advent of apps represented the “uberisation” of jet booking.

The Wheels Up app is free for members and non-members. However, prices and availability are different for members, who have access to their own benefits portal through the app.

JetASAP is perhaps the most different of these more established names, as it claims to be the number one free jet rental market. CEO Lisa Kiefer Sayer, who founded the company in 2018, explained that the app shows available bookings from different charter operators.

She said the coronavirus pandemic has had a “huge impact” in terms of the demographics of its users.

Typically, private jet charterers had a net worth of $ 10 million to $ 20 million, but she said the pandemic had opened up the market to people with net worth of $ 2 million to $ 3 million.

Sayer said half of JetASAP app users are seasoned private aviators, while the other half are new to private aviation.

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