By Stefaan Ghijs
Many investors are investing millions in private aircraft booking platforms and are expecting a good return of investment (ROI). One believes this only a bubble. Especially taking into account that almost monthly a new private jet booking platform is introduced.
These new “big data” companies are creating simple and sleek mobile applications allowing you to easily book a private jet without any hassle and knowledge of the market. They launch customer friendly and easy to book websites with online estimates and quotes.
The unfamiliarity of private individuals using these platforms, creates the idea that you are booking the cheapest private aircraft or business jet that is available. Unfortunately, this is not all what it looks like. The aircraft booking platforms do not display all available aircraft in the market, they only offer a limited selection.
Private jet booking platform and its fleet accessibility
Business jet platforms have access to a global fleet of around 7000 private and business aircraft, this is only a small fraction of the worldwide fleet. The biggest reason why not all aircraft are projected in these systems lies in the fact that the platforms distinguish aircraft that fly under a so-called Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from those that fly without this license.
In United States all aircraft, including single engine piston aircraft, can be operated commercially. Operators can apply for an AOC accordingly. This is not the case in the European Union. Albeit the changing laws for commercial operations with single engine turbo-prop aircraft, based on the trailing regulations in the EU aircraft operators set-up different business models conforming the air operation regulations. This allows them to fly passengers with aircraft currently not allowed to be operated on an AOC yet. Two models mostly used are the fractional ownership and separate invoicing for pilot and aircraft model.
The aircraft booking platforms on the other hand require an AOC of aircraft operators while adding their aircraft to the private jet booking platform. Due to this limitation they do not necessarily offer the cheapest flights per private aircraft or jet to their end customers.
In the end the limited experience and market knowledge of customers in booking a private aircraft, creates the idea they booked the best option, which unfortunately is not the case.
Entry Level Aircraft
In the private jet booking platforms most of the times a Cessna Citation Mustang represents the entry level aircraft. Prices for such a business jet roughly range between € 1.800,00 and €2.000,00 per hour. Several less costly aircraft like a Pilatus PC12, Diamond DA42 or a Cirrus SR22 though are mostly not represented in the platforms. As a comparison the price for a Cirrus SR22 starts at € 580,00 per hour.
In our view a private aircraft platform should include a whole range of aircraft possibilities. Unfortunately, the opposite is true and lower priced options are left out of the platforms.
Which booking platforms include lower priced aircraft?
Fly Aeolus conducted a research between 13 private aircraft booking platforms. We concluded that currently there is only one online booking platform (Stratajet) that includes lower priced aircraft in their platform for comparison. “Low cost” aircraft operators on their platform are required to provide upfront proof that their operations are in conjunction with the regulations. The latter is crosschecked by Stratajet private jet booking platform with the relevant civil aviation authorities.
Projected prices are higher than book prices
Almost all of the booking platforms project aircraft prices which are not directly bookable. Prices given are not the final price which customers will pay when ordering an aircraft for a specific route.
This was also only possible with “Stratajet”.
Platforms have no knowledge of the whereabouts at the time of order of the aircraft, also the platform is not aware whether the aircraft you ordered is available for the requested dates and times. Hence platforms check aircraft availability after the reservation has been made with aircraft operator. Ultimately the price displayed can differ from the final price you pay.
So before doing business with any of these private jet booking platforms we recommend doing your own research and find the best price. And above all check multiple different platforms: sometimes the cheapest option is not really the cheapest option!