The next wave of private jet travelers is likely to have suits and ties instead of shorts and scuba gear. A report in The Wall Street Journal indicates CEOs are overruling the bean counters, encouraging executives to use private jets to go out and win business deals. It cites JP Morgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon pushing bankers to use corporate jets to visit clients.
At the same time, private aviation providers are gearing up to satiate the starched shirt crowd even as they struggle to cope with record demand spurred by new users and increased leisure and vacation trips.
The latest announcement comes today from VeriJet, which operates a growing fleet of Cirrus SF50 Vision Jets. After launching last October in Florida, it is now expanding to California. It will have 25 of the very light jets by the beginning of next year, says CEO and founder Richard Klein.
At the same time, it’s launching its first jet card. While not offering guaranteed availability, it’s offering one-way rates starting at just $2,500 per hour. One-way pricing means you don’t pay for repositioning fees. Top-tier members can get a jet on as little as two hours’ notice.
While the Vision Jet is slower than most larger private jets and doesn’t have a toilet, it can be reconfigured in minutes, seat up to four adults with one and two pilot options, and access smaller airports. It’s ideal if you have oversize presentations or samples you can’t check and won’t fit in the overhead bin. It also has a revolutionary safety system that enables passengers to land the plane with a touch of a button should the pilot become incapacitated.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Flexjet is expanding its fleet of Gulfstream G650s. At $75 million, one of the ultra-long-range jets costs the same as 25 SF50s.
Still, the fractional share provider’s new Unlimited Access program is designed for customers who need to make both long and short flights. For the longer trips, it now offers roundtrip discounts comparable to on-demand charter and jet cards. The G650 can fly up to 16 hours nonstop. For shorter trips, it now offers customers the option to downgrade to smaller aircraft and get cash credits instead of extra hours.
D.J. Hanlon, executive vice president of sales for Flexjet, says with typical fractional share programs when you downgrade to a smaller jet, you are charged fewer hours. Since you can lose hours that you don’t use, it means taking mission-appropriate aircraft often doesn’t make sense. Now customers have a choice.
Separately, the Cleveland-based seller of fractional shares expanded its World Access program. With a day-based approach, customers can keep the same aircraft with them during their trips. That means being able to store luggage and other articles aboard the jet. Beyond London and New York, new customer bases include Chicago, Dallas, Palm Beach, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Unlimited Access is available to customers nationwide. After taking its sixth G650 this month, Flexjet plans to add three more before the end of the year.
Verijet and Flexjet have plenty of company in trying to attract business travelers. Last month, leading up to its IPO last week, Wheels Up launched UP For Business, a program it says enables a broad array of customizable options. That includes using funds for flights on partner Delta Air Lines.
Last Fall, VistaJet, better known for its white-glove luxury-oriented approach, added its first program explicitly targeting the corporate travel market. It also takes a high-touch approach. That includes options to have a VistaJet flight coordinator located in your office and a backup jet ready if your primary aircraft isn’t ready to go.
Jet Linx Aviation, a fast-growing private jet management company that sells jets cards and operates its own private terminals in 19 markets, also launched its first program targeting companies. It features shorter lead-time to book and guaranteed WiFi on a complimentary basis.
CEOs who implement private aviation solutions to grow their businesses have facts on their side. An 2019 analysis of S&P 500 companies shows those that use business aviation outperform those that don’t by 70%. A Nexa Advisors study of the Small Cap 600 showed private aviation users outperformed non-users in revenue growth by 23%.