Business aviation was originally based on a simple model. When a client wishes to fly in a private jet, he contacts a broker. This one then turns itself to the airlines to identify the best offers he may offer. After the client’s choice, he accompanies him throughout the booking process until takeoff.
Low cost is an undeniable commercial success in commercial aviation. The model, invented in the United States in the early 2000s, made it possible to democratize travel with very low prices. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), low-cost carriers transported 31% of the world’s total scheduled air passengers in 2018.
Today, some market players are trying to adapt this model to business aviation. The significant increase in the number of competitors and the emerging of new digital tools have reshuffled the cards in recent years. Faced with increased competition, companies in the sector have not hesitated to position themselves on a low cost offer. But what truly are these new business models ? And what are the implications for customers?
AEROAFFAIRES reveals the different possible low cost options that meet all the conditions of flight safety in public transport. It is useful to understand clearly the market to choose your flight with full knowledge and transparency.
The new offers to fly in private jet at a low cost rate
“As the head of a company based in Lorient, France, I have to go to Marseille to visit suppliers every month. It’s a trip that would take me at least 8 hours by train and more than 10 hours by car. It would cost me more than two days, with hotel and taxi costs, and then the fatigue that goes with it! The private jet is a professional solution that is essential to me. But the multitude of offers is quite disorienting. “, recently told us a client, emblematic CEO of Brittany. And he was not wrong in his conclusion, the abundance of formulas for the rental of private jets can turn heads, as Le Point reports in a column.
Empty Leg Flights
Empty Leg Flights have emerged as the perfect solution for traveling by private jet at a low cost. This is a flight already booked and paid by a customer. Given this, it is sometimes necessary to move the plane to the customer for his flight, or on the contrary to reposition it afterwards: certain movements are made without passengers. It is on these flights that airlines sell seats at unbeatable prices. They are indeed already profitable, it is a pure benefit for them.
The empty flight is however binding in the sense that it can be canceled until the last moment by the operator. In addition, the customer cannot choose neither his timetables nor modify the final destination.
Jet Card Membership
Some private jets airlines sell subscription cards that allow unlimited travel by private jet. The advantage of this solution lies in the fixed price that you have to pay to access the service. However, despite dazzling success in the United States, this offer does not find its customers in Europe. No more European company offers it insofar as they have gone bankrupt.
Online Private Jets Booking Platform
Brokers have decided to take a low cost approach by offering online private jet booking platforms. These companies link passengers and operators directly. They provide less service compared to traditional brokers. Follow-up is less thorough, the conditions of sale are more demanding and the additional paying options are numerous such as the restoration or the modification of the list of passengers. The price to pay for a cheaper price.
Booking only a seat on a private jet flight is the concept of shared flight. For a single price per person, this offer reduces the price of the flight. The concept had the ambition to become the “Blablacar” of tailor-made aviation but almost didn’t appeal in Europe. The essence of business aviation is indeed to provide tailor-made solutions to travelers who are ready to pay the price for it.
In addition, shared flight can be a kind of disguised transportation of people. The comparison with regular commercial transport can be done in the sense that passengers reserve their seats on an airplane that operates on a regular line.
New Flight Sharing Platform
Several offers of “Flight Sharing Platform” for business aviation have appeared recently. These companies want to “Uberize” business aviation by linking travelers, pilots and aircraft owners on the same platform. This cost-sharing offer is attractive because it is inexpensive. In reality, this solution does not fit into the legal definition of business flight in public transport. It essentially consists of traveling on tourist airplaines, with a narrow cabin and a very limited range of action. With a single amateur pilot who does not have the necessary qualifications for the commercial transport of passengers.
Similarly, the owners of the aircraft don’t always have the Air Operator Certificate (AOC). This shortcoming leads to a serious insurance default for the flights, a risk that companies can not take with regard to their employees. In fact, neither the pilot, nor the owner of the aircraft, nor the platform which puts the parties in contact, bear the responsibility for the flight.
It is in this context that the footballer Emiliano Sala lost his life in the accident of his plane over the English Channel in January 2019. From the agent who organized the flight, from the pilot or even from the owner of the plane, a Piper PA-46, nobody owned the AOC. The aircraft as much as the pilot were therefore not authorized to carry out commercial passenger transport.
AEROAFFAIRES refuses to offer this kind of amateur flights to its customers for their air travel.
What does it involve to fly in a private jet at a low cost rate ?
The business aviation market players that position themselves on the low-cost segment have an offer that differs significantly from the one of traditional players in the sector.
A service where everything is billed à la carte
Low-cost airlines and charterers are cutting back on services to lower costs. Their margins are so low that they take advantage of an à la carte offer where any additional service is billed. On-board catering becomes a paying luxury. In the same way, each modification in the flight, whether for the passenger list or the schedule, will be invoiced to the customer.
Customer satisfaction is no less important in low cost, but above all it involves the price of the flight, because it always make customers coming back.
Reinforced cancellation conditions
To make their fleets profitable, low-cost private jet airlines fly their planes more than conventional operators. In the event of cancellation shortly before the flight, the airline will suffer serious loss. This is why these operators charge large cancellation fees. And while it is often possible to negotiate or cancel these fees with conventional companies, it is very difficult to do so with low cost ones.
Commercial services with limited efficiency in terms of service
The attractive low cost prices attract more customers and charterers receive more requests for private jet flights. To deal with it, the sales advisers respond to all quotes at a very high-speed rate without always checking the flight parameters. The service is no longer as personalized as it is with traditional brokers which generally take care of your trips before and after the flight, visa formalities or even check certain details on the constraints inherent in business flights (airport timetables, crew availability, pilot qualification for certain destinations, etc.). The exponential volume of quotes processed implies errors and omissions in the low cost charterer resulting in a low conversion rate.
Likewise, the low-cost operator does not generally take care of finding another solution in the event of a last-minute mechanical hazard. Whereas it is usual for the traditional broker to find another way for the customer to complete his flight and goes to his destination.
Strengthened sales conditions
The sales terms and conditions of low-priced operators are particularly strengthened compared to those flexible of conventional brokers. The sale price offered for a flight is always of limited duration with the low cost charterer, its price increases over time. Similarly, when an offer is confirmed, the contract must be signed very quickly or immediately afterwards. Finally, the payment conditions are also more stringent. The low cost broker requests payment a few days before the flight because his cash is more tight. When a traditional broker can advance the amount or stagger the payment after the theft.
The low cost model therefore struggles to adapt to business aviation. It’s difficult indeed to reduce services and costs where everything is tailor-made. Traveling by private jet remain quite expensive because it requires many guarantees to be carried out under safe conditions. The expertise of a flight advisor, the qualification of professional pilots, up-to-date aircraft maintenance, insurance with significant financial ceilings or approvals such as the Air Operator Certificate, these are all safeguards on which we can’t compromise for the safety and the good progress of a flight.
The best solution for traveling at the best price and under the best conditions still seems to call a broker like AEROAFFAIRES. We are committed to find the most attractive offers for your private flights. Our flights are carried out under the legal regime of Public Passenger Transport on private jets operated by companies with an Air Operator Certificate. We favor the best air operators, validated by our insurance.
If you wish to fly in a private jet at the low cost rate, there are cheap round trips between Paris – Le Bourget and Geneva. For 4 or 5 people, you can fly at a very competitive price of around 4,000 euros, or less than 1,000 euros per passenger.