Bizav seen as archaic industry


Some will cite the obvious post 2008/9 financial crisis as preventing the private aviation industry from advancing. Others argue that overpopulation of providers is the problem, limiting any potential market growth to consolidation. This is flawed – nothing ever “shrinks to greatness.”

The actual reason for the lack of growth has been two huge gaping holes that were always going to stop the private jet industry from being accepted by a wider audience. The first is the control the brokers exert in the market and the second is the price – which is extortionate due to the inefficiency and waste in what is a staggeringly archaic industry.

If you look at the world of travel, there is absolutely no industry that is not online. People no longer expect to only have the option of picking up a telephone to go through the process of requesting quotes – they expect immediacy. Scheduled airlines, trains, boats, whatever mode of transport you like, are all available online, and you know instantly how much it costs and can make a booking then and there.

Private jets are the exception to this and that has prevented them being seen as a valid form of transport. It’s a closed industry, seen only as a thing of luxury, and it needs to catch up. Why?

Because the market is shrinking.

An online but still manual industry

Business aviation is hugely complex, yet has not adapted to the advancements in technology and e-commerce going on around it. Still a largely manually run industry, these complexities have, to date, resulted in inefficiencies that have limited operator margins and therefore driven prices higher for the consumer.

There’s a lot of noise from other companies who are claiming to be online brokers, but none of them can do what our software can – what they do is use a website to collect requests and then they farm them out to operators who still have to quote manually.

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In contrast, Stratajet offers our technology to aircraft operators to more efficiently track their jets. Through this direct relationship, we can remove the need for travelers to phone a broker, while reducing the amount of hours spent by operators in providing quotes.

Adapting empty legs

Stratajet is also addressing the problem of private jets flying without passengers due to the necessity for an aircraft to make the return leg after any given journey. It’s a hugely wasteful statistic that 40% of private jets fly empty – amounting to around 260,000 private flights moving without any passengers last year in Europe alone. Until now, nobody had the ability to solve this problem.

Operators have argued that this is the only way they can provide the instant and flexible availability of flights to clients, but it makes flying privately the most expensive way to travel. Customers are paying for the privilege of the aircraft having to position empty to take them where they want to go.

A number of online brokers have been trying to sell passenger-less flights by posting all “empty legs” in the hope that people will find the one they want. However, this breaks a key principle of private aviation — that the aircraft works around the individual, not the other way around. As soon as you’re told “you have to go from this airfield at a certain time,” you’ve to adapt everything to the aircraft.

Our system can search, in real-time, every available flight for any journey, and by including existing empty legs in its search, and adapting these to suit the passenger, the cost of private jet travel can be reduced. There is a significant saving for the customer, while the operators’ profit margins are improved, and we’re not just burning jet fuel for the sake of it.

While there will always be people whose preference is to use a traditional broker to book a private jet, I am confident that a greater number of people want innovative choice. We can make flying by private jet a reality for the mainstream traveler.

Jonny Nicol is founder and CEO at Stratajet.