An industry rife for disruption, the aviation sector has witnessed a great turn in the tide with the emergence of jet startups like NetJets, JetSmarter and Surf Air. These ventures are not only a breath of fresh air; they are also democratizing private air travel by creating a community of globetrotters who are diligent towards becoming a part of something better.
Back in 2009, the face of private aviation was not what it has become today. People went about booking private jets manually, over the phone. There was no digitalization, no sharing economy, no ease of access – everything was archaic. Private aviation industry hopped on the digital bandwagon pretty late, as compared to other industries.
What made the likes of NetJets and JetSmarter thrive, is their exploration of sharing economy. By allowing their customers to share private jets, these companies have surely been working towards widening the horizon of private aviation.
According to various surveys, an average private jet only flies about 200 hours a year, as compared to the ideal figure of 1,500 flying hours per year. This clearly shows that the load factor for these private jets remains very low, with only about two or three people on each flight.
“The supply side was ripe for disruption and then obviously the demand side there’s a massive pool of people who would like to experience private aviation at a lower cost. We just bridged the gap,” said Sergey Petrossov, CEO of JetSmarter, in his interview with Forbes.
The concept of ‘Uber for Private Jets’ is largely being perceived as a liberating factor for private aviation sector, since the movement has given birth to a new community of globetrotters who are interested in going the luxe way, without actually burning a hole in the pocket.
When it comes to membership plans, these companies offer great value for money. For example, JetSmarter offers a standard membership at $15,000 for a year, which drops down to $13,000 for the second year. The standard membership comes with unlimited flights to destinations of your choice on last-minute empty leg flights and shorter shuttles.
For those who are looking for a more affordable option, JetSmarter offers a cheaper alternative – the Founders’ Membership, which costs about $5,000 per year, and comes with one token which could be used while booking flights.
Private aviation startups like NetJets, JetSmarter and Surf Air are proving to be a boon for frequent flyers, who otherwise experience a hard time getting the right flight and right fare, apart from going through the tiresome process of having to reach the airport, hours prior to the flight time, only to stand in never-ending queues.