“On-demand charter is typically the least costly way to access business aircraft advan-tages, especially when you return to your departure point and avoid repositioning or empty-leg fees. Whether you charter once a week, once a quarter or once a year, you only pay for what you use. You can select the aircraft best suited for each trip and there’s no long-term commitment, so you can walk away after you land without any additional financial obligation.
But not all charter is equal, points out JetDirect Aviation’s Gil Wolin. It can vary considerably in quality, and often, you get what you pay for, he says. While some top charter operators adhere to rigid safety standards equal to or even better than those of the world’s preeminent airlines, others do not, he cautions. Careful research is imperative. Where safety is concerned, eliminate price from the decision matrix. “Work only through companies with impeccable reputations — ones that meet the industry’s most demanding criteria and receive the highest ratings from independent safety auditors such as Wyvern or ARG/US,” says Wolin. “It may cost a little more, but the value is undeniable.”
JetDirect Aviation, arguably the country’s largest and most experienced charter and aircraft management firm, makes charter available in part through its managed fleet of 300 aircraft. Many of these jets, which are owned by large corporations, fly significantly less than the industry norm, so owners make them available for charter when they would otherwise be idle.
Owners benefit from the additional revenue that partially offsets ownership costs, and charter customers benefit by choosing from among top-quality aircraft that are impeccably maintained. If a JetDirect Aviation jet isn’t available when you want it, the company turns to an elite cadre of providers that meets JetDirect Aviation’s own industry-leading safety criteria to supply you with the ideal aircraft.
Although overall charter has felt the impact of the sputtering domestic economy, the large-cabin, international-range end of the market is strong, says Wolin, adding that continued growth in charter is nearly assured as a result of rapidly deteriorating airline service and rising ticket costs. “With four or more traveling, charter is increasingly cost-effective,” says Wolin, “and that’s without considering vital intangibles such as the value of time, operating on one’s own schedule, and the urgency and value of business.”
“You really have to look at the overall experience. For me,
the safety, comfort and convenience are essential, so it’s not
a decision based on price. At the end of the day, it’s been
a great experience, and it’s my one indulgence.”
Hospitality Industry Executive
Jet cards are the new speedway to business aircraft benefits. One card, one payment, one call and your jet is guaranteed anytime, anywhere. With no long-term commitment and the pay-as-you-go simplicity of charter, combined with the consistency, safety, one-way pricing and guaranteed availability offered by fractional ownership, jet cards have helped tens of thousands of first-time private fliers transform their business and personal lifestyles.
Diego J. Veitia, founder and chairman of International Assets Holding Corp., highly values his Bombardier Skyjet card. “In our business, you can use your capital for many other things,” he says. His prepaid card frees up needed capital, and “it has elevated my efficiency and business capability tremendously.”
Charge It, Please
Jet cards are sold in either fixed-dollar or flight-hour denominations and work much like a Starbucks card. You prepay for service at specified rates, and flight costs or flight hours are deducted as you use them. Unlike with charter, jet-card pricing works according to a one-way, occupied basis, and owners never pay for deadhead or repositioning time, though some card programs offer discounted round-trip fares. When the card balance is depleted, you simply renew or walk away without any further obligation. Many providers even offer a full refund on the unused balance.
Corporations are finding jet cards to be a simple way to isolate an executive’s personal travel from business travel. And retirees and young entrepreneurs have happily found a new, cost-effective approach to gaining private aircraft advantages in small quantities at a time. Although flight-hour rates are more costly than on-demand charter or fractional ownership, many programs have significant discounts for flexible fliers who choose off-peak flight times. The convenience is creating a booming market.
Marquis Jet Card
The popular Marquis Jet Card set the trend that others followed. Uniquely, it offers all the benefits of NetJets fractional ownership 25 prepaid hours at a time, without the long-term capital investment. A single prepaid card provides guaranteed access on any of ten different NetJets aircraft types anytime, anywhere throughout North America, Europe and beyond. Card owners can also change to a larger or smaller aircraft at a specified hourly interchange rate. For those with more varied travel needs, a combo card allows hours to be split between two different aircraft types.
“The reasons to fly privately are probably more pronounced now than at any other point in time,” comments Randy Brandoff, vice president of marketing at Marquis Jet. “In a challenging market where time is money and people need to work harder than ever to be successful, they want to save as much time as possible on travel.”
At Marquis Jet, Brandoff is seeing impressive growth, whether it’s with card owners who have just discovered the convenience of private jet travel; those who have tried alternative charter and jet membership programs and now want to switch; or others who need a different aircraft to complement their full ownership interest or project-based usage where short-term deals make long-term investments impractical. In addition, says Brandoff, because it draws on the enormous NetJets fleet, the Marquis Jet Card can be a great supplement to other card or fractional programs that might restrict users to a more limited variety of aircraft.
The Marquis Jet Card also offers a big advantage for international travelers. Because NetJets has an established European fleet and infrastructure, Marquis Jet Card owners in the U.S. can take equal advantage when abroad.
“In a challenging market where time is money and people need to work harder
than ever to be successful, they want to save as much time as possible on travel.”
Randy Brandoff, Marquis Jet
You might not expect that a marine transportation company operating a fleet of lumbering tugboats, pushboats and barges would have a need for speed, but Kurt Crosby, chief executive officer of Crosby Tugs, LLC, would beg to differ. “We operate all over the world,” says Crosby, who never knows if his next opportunity will be around the corner or across an ocean. “This is a very competitive business, and we definitely have to react quickly,” he adds. “It’s all about being in the right place at the right time.”
Of course, when you’re headquartered in a place like Galliano, La., time is not always on your side. Crosby’s hour-plus drive to the nearest commercial airport in New Orleans was longer than the flight to visit clients spread throughout Texas, Virginia, Florida and the Northeast. But with the local airport just ten minutes away, Crosby shaves nearly three hours off those trips by traveling with his Marquis Jet card. “I can arrive just minutes before takeoff and the jet is there. We go, do our day’s work and normally come back that evening,” he explains.
Crosby flies a robust 125 hours a year. Though he has considered switching to fractional ownership, he really enjoys the added flexibility of the card program. Whether he’s traveling with just a few key managers or a crew of operations and safety specialists, he can select the perfect plane for the job. “Instead of buying one type of jet, we have a whole fleet,” he says. And when those deep-sea drilling rigs need to move, Crosby can’t afford to wait for an airline flight. “Having whatever size jet we need available to us is crucial,” he emphasizes. Plus, a private aircraft cabin means no more wasted travel time. “We can discuss what we are going to look at and how we are going to attack it [en route]. That is a key benefit.”
Although many small business owners may think that access to a private jet is beyond their budget, Crosby is quick to point out that dollar amounts do not tell the whole story. It’s not about the cost of travel, it’s about the cost of doing business, he notes. And the ability to be there for his clients when it counts is priceless.
While his marine fleet carries on slowly and steadily, Crosby’s Marquis fleet has enabled him to build his business at Mach speed. “Time is money in this business, and [having the plane] has definitely paid off,” he says.
Bombardier Skyjet offers a wallet-friendly charter-based jet card, supported by a rigorously screened, elite group of the nation’s best charter providers. Cardholders make an initial deposit and then choose the most appropriate aircraft for each trip from among five jet categories spanning small-cabin to ultra-long-range jets, says Bombardier Skyjet Managing Director Chris Milligan. Pricing is guaranteed for each group, and you pay only for the hours you fly. Round-trip flights qualify for discounts and, unlike with on-demand charter, there are never any positioning or empty-leg charges. Cardholders can also select from among the Elite Program (aircraft ten years old or younger) or the cost-effective Value Program (slightly older aircraft). Both represent superior, quality choices based on independent, on-site safety audits, says Milligan, and your aircraft is always guaranteed to be available when you need it.
For those who fly infrequently but want convenience and flexibility of quality private-jet travel, Skyjet also arranges on-demand charter on a pay-as-you-go, flight-by-flight basis.
For professional golfer Bo Van Pelt, the Skyjet Card is a stress reliever. “I have complete control over my schedule, so I can concentrate on playing golf, not on traveling,” he says. And now he brings family members with him too. He also likes Skyjet’s around-the-clock personal travel concierge. “If we have to make changes there are no worries. We just call for the jet and it’s there,” he notes.
And when international business takes asset manager Diego Veitia to the Caribbean and Bahamas, he’s pleased that Skyjet has guaranteed rates to the islands. “I can bring additional colleagues and use their time effectively,” he says. “We can get the job done and get back to the next project quickly. It is superb.” His card also comes in handy in Europe through Skyjet’s international affiliates.
Perhaps best of all, membership never expires and the satisfaction guarantee assures a full refund on any remaining balance, “so it’s really no-risk,” says Milligan. Remaining funds can also be applied to a Bombardier Flexjet 25 Card. Easily arranged through Skyjet for those who desire a specific Bombardier aircraft, the Flexjet 25 Card is available in 25-, 30- and 35-hour increments on any of three Bombardier models. In addition, three different pricing levels are offered based on flexibility in avoiding peak travel periods.
“When you have your most important people sitting in airline terminals,
that’s not the way to go. You’ve got to value your upper managers’ time.
We wouldn’t be the same company without these planes.”
Matthew Clifford, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
Disillusioned with the commercial airline experience, one longtime hospitality industry executive had just about all he could take. “Usually when we travel there’s me, my wife, our five children, our nanny and about 12 bags,” he says, “so [flying commercially] we had to get through the airport and hope we didn’t get bumped, because the probability of getting enough seats on the next flight out was slim to none.” It was all the aggravation of commercial travel multiplied by eight. Plus, with school vacations lasting only one week, it wasn’t uncommon for the family to spend a significant portion of their getaway time just trying to get there. Then he found a better way to travel with Bombardier Skyjet, and he’s never looked back.
“Having spent 25 years in the hospitality business, service is very important to me. Even though Bombardier is a huge company, Skyjet feels like a small company with a very service-oriented focus. Everything is very simple,” he says, explaining that he simply purchases a card for a preset sum and then chooses the right size jet for each flight, without incurring any penalty for a switch. “That is key,” he says, since not every trip is a whole-family affair. “The flexibility Skyjet offers is very compelling.”
Now when he and his family go on their regular retreats to Utah, Colorado or Caribbean destinations like Anguilla, Barbados or St. Martin, they can jet directly from a local airport without the hassles of congested terminals, security lines, connecting flights or baggage claims. With Skyjet, “you’re pretty much guaranteed an on-time departure. You’re whisked right through customs and you’re on the beach by midafternoon,” he says. It makes it possible to consider vacation destinations that would have been virtually impossible to reach via the airlines. “There’s something very empowering about that,” he adds. “[Traveling on your own schedule] really provides you with immediate freedom.” He can make plans well in advance or spontaneously the day before with similar ease. And a three-day weekend can be a three-day holiday. Now the fun begins the moment they board the plane, not after they arrive tired and disgruntled.
It may cost more, but he cautions against evaluating private jet travel purely from a cost perspective. “You really have to look at the overall experience. For me, the safety, comfort and convenience are essential, so it’s not a decision based on price. At the end of the day, it’s been a great experience, and it’s my one indulgence,” he says.
Sold in fixed-dollar amounts, the Flight Options JetPASS Ultimate Card is an interesting no-commitment variation on the jet-card model. For a single up-front deposit, one gains immediate access to the entire Flight Options fleet of small, mid-size and large-cabin aircraft. Predetermined rates vary based on aircraft type, and all costs are built in, which means no surprises after you land. There’s also good news for island hoppers: There are no ferry fees to Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean.
JetPASS also offers discounts for round-trip and Saturday travel. And for those with greater schedule flexibility, pricing discounts apply for off-peak travel, offering great value for those who don’t need to travel during the busiest times.
JetPASS cards never expire, and all unused deposit balances are fully refundable.
CitationShares Vector JetCard
Now operating in a debit-card mode, CitationShares’ Vector JetCard provides access to any of three CitationShares aircraft models with a single payment.
Available for flights on the Citation Bravo, XLS and Sovereign throughout the U.S., southern Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean, the Vector JetCard offers amazing flexibility in allowing owners to select the best aircraft for the trip. Fixed per-flight-hour rates apply for each aircraft type, and total trip costs are deducted from the card balance. A money-saving, nonpeak feature yields reduced costs for those with more flexible schedules. If you are concerned that your needs may change over time, a refund on unused balances is possible after the first contract year.
Avantair Edge Card
Jet cards are definitely hot sellers, and the Avantair Edge Card is no exception. Because of its limited commitment, which can be particularly appealing during times of economic uncertainty, the Edge Card is catching on with a wide range of new Avantair customers who are attracted by the Avanti’s fuel efficiency and low operating cost.
Sold in 25-hour increments with a one-time charge, it’s an economical way to sample Avantair before transitioning into fractional ownership, says Chief Executive Officer Steve Santo. Unused card balances can be applied to an Avantair fractional share purchase. The Edge Card is also a perfect supplement for existing owners in any provider’s fractional ownership program who need incremental cost-effective travel capability.
“Don’t just consider the cost. Factor in the intangible benefits — the time savings,
the lack of wear and tear. This accounts for a lot. You realize it all makes so much sense.”
Don Davis, Retired Executive
The Small Jet Revolution
A new upsurge of technologically advanced, highly efficient small jets, more affordable than ever before, is entering the marketplace and altering the realm of personal and business travel at an astonishing rate. Their level of affordability opens the skies to companies and individuals who previously could only dream of ownership. These new small jets will enable entrepreneurs and small business owners to be their own corporate pilots. They will supplement a company’s long-range fleet, adding new levels of efficiency and short-field capability, and they are showing promise for a new air transportation paradigm — the pay-per-seat air-taxi service.
Reshaping the Future
While Eclipse heralded this new era with the Eclipse 500, the first-in-category Very Light Jet (VLJ), new concepts and even newer technology continue to alter the status quo for personal and business flying. No fewer than seven manufacturers are banking on big growth in small-jet travel, and the promise for the future is huge.
Clearly, this is a market segment set to witness profound levels of innovation, as we have seen in the case of aviation newcomer HondaJet. With a pioneering leap forward in aircraft design that places the engines on top of the wings, this otherwise small jet gains a generously sized cabin, complete with a fully enclosed lavatory — features completely uncharacteristic of the small jet category. This innovative new jet is in high demand, with significantly greater fuel efficiency than other light jets, an impressive New York-to-Miami range, speeds of 480 mph and the ability to cruise at 43,000 feet, well above weather, not to mention the Honda brand name.
“We think the HondaJet will define a new category,” says Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft Company president and chief executive officer, “and I want to call this the ‘Advanced Light Jet.’ It means no sacrifice in speed or cabin size in order to achieve the best fuel efficiency.”
Conceived by Fujino in a hand-drawn sketch on the back of a calendar, the HondaJet defies conventional engineering wisdom in its revolutionary, advanced light-jet design. In doing so, Honda brings a new level of personal mobility to the skies and combines it with a new standard for performance, comfort and quality. “I always thought that airplane design was a kind of art,” says Fujino, “and HondaJet is kind of my work of art.”
Applying lessons from automotive design, HondaJet engineers updated and reworked the space ergonomically for maximum pilot and passenger comfort and functionality. Beyond the enhanced interior space, the new jet’s unique configuration improves aero-dynamic efficiency. Reduced drag on the airframe, coupled with a lightweight, all-composite fuselage and the GE Honda turbo-fan engine, all add up to an operating economy 15% to 20% better than that of similar-size business jets. While fuel economy in the wake of rising fuel costs was — and certainly still is — an issue, Fujino focused on environmental considerations.
First deliveries are slated for 2010. The promise of performance and economy has attracted well over 100 firm orders in the U.S. and strong demand from Europe, Russia and the Middle East. With the overwhelming market acceptance, could there be a family of HondaJets in the wings? “As a company official, I cannot say,” concedes Fujino. “But that is my dream.” So far, many of his dreams have come true.
Reach for the Sky
Moving at the speed of business has never been more challenging. Fortunately, with access to a business aircraft, you can outpace the competition. “Our leadership believes that there is nothing more important in a business relationship than for your customers to feel like they have open access to the man at the top,” says one software company executive who is on the go for months at a time, calling on thousands of global customers annually. “[Access to a company plane] is the only way that we can get to the number of customers we do on the schedule we keep throughout the year,” he stresses.
Heading for Success
In today’s global business environment, going the extra mile isn’t a figure of speech, it’s a fact of life. Fortunately, even small business owners like this chief executive of a Midwest-based insurance brokerage have discovered that access to a business jet makes it easy and efficient to impress a geographically diverse clientele with unlimited flexibility. “When clients see that you are making the time to bring all your top people, they know you care about their business, and that translates into a long-standing relationship,” he says.
With access to a private jet, executives like Russell Geyser, founder of an Encinitas, Calif.-based real estate syndication firm, can take advan-tage of business opportunities they wouldn’t have considered before due to the daunting logistics. Recently, Geyser made a spur-of-the-moment trip to visit a business prospect in Las Vegas and really hit the jackpot. “I went there and we closed the deal. It was a very profitable deal and one I never would have made had we not been together face-to-face. I probably would have dismissed it on the phone,” he says.
Flying privately means travel time can easily become productive time, and often with clients it’s the perfect marketing opportunity. “I had 45 uninterrupted minutes with [an elusive prospect] to pitch our business model,” remarked one entrepreneur, “and we were able to consummate a business relationship that I would not have been able to otherwise.”
Your Future Is Here
And there’s more good news: Latest-generation business aircraft are safer and more versatile than ever before. Advanced digital instrumentation providing turbulence, weather, air-traffic and terrain data combines the highest levels of safety with unprecedented functionality. The very latest flight-deck technology, synthetic vision, presents pilots with clear, real-world images of the terrain below even in the worst conditions, so business aircraft can safely take off and land in places where commercial airlines don’t go.
Increasingly, businesses and individuals are realizing that what was once considered a corporate luxury is actually an indispensable tool even for today’s most fiscally conservative companies. The incredible stories here prove that these planes really do create significant revenue-generating opportunities. With so many access options, there’s bound to be a private flying solution that’s perfect for your company’s schedule and budget.
So break out of your holding pattern. The future of business is taking off, and there’s never been a better time to get on board.
Written and Produced by Mark Patiky • firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: Allison Lurker
Designer: Jon Prinsky