Private Jet Card Comparisons compares 27 providers and over 100 jet programs, including pricing and safety. In this article, we cover ownership and history.
Who’s who in private jet card programs? The list keeps getting longer. Currently, we have 27 programs in our comparison spreadsheets and are adding more for 2018. If you think you know the players, 12 of the 27 providers are less than 10 years old. Doing research before you buy makes it easier to make sure you get the right program for your needs. They vary widely and Private Jet Card Comparisons compares programs across 65 variables.
Among the most established providers are NetJets, which has been selling fractional shares since 1986 but has roots dating to 1964. However, the subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway didn’t start selling jet cards to the public until it acquired Marquis Jet Partners in 2010. Air Partner (1961) is traded on the London Stock Exchange. Los Angeles-based Clay Lacy Aviation (1968) was started by a former United Airlines pilot and operates FBOs, manages aircraft, sells on-demand charter. Jet Aviation, which is a subsidiary of General Dynamics and a sister company to Gulfstream, traces its history to 1967. Sentient Jet traces its roots only to 1999 but claims to be the inventor of the jet card.
“Private jet cards were created by taking excess inventory that was fragmented across a long tail of operators that didn’t want to get into retail sales. We figured out a way to partner with those operators, take the excess capacity and productize it, put a framework of rules to it, and we launched an industry that brought a whole new set of clients to private jets. That’s exactly what Uber or Airbnb has done, except even during peak periods, we guarantee availability at a fixed price,” says Andrew Collins, CEO of Sentient Jet.
In the past decade, Airstream Jets, Concord Private Jet, Expert Jet, JetSet Group, JetSuite, Magellan Jets, Private Fly, Prive Jets, Solairus Aviation, Star Jets International, and StraightLine Private Air, Wheels Up and Wholesale Jet Club all have entered the market.
In terms of ownership, only Air Partner is publicly traded, however, Delta Private Jets (Delta Air Lines), Jet Aviation (General Dynamics), and NetJets (Berkshire Hathaway) are all subsidiaries of publicly traded companies. That said, the jet card business draws plenty of entrepreneurs with 18 of 27 companies headed by either the founder or a member of the founding family. And while there are plenty of private companies selling jet cards, some have significant backers such as XOJET, whose investors include TPG and a sovereign fund from the U.A.E.
In terms of size, since not all jet card sellers own or operate aircraft, head count varies quite a bit. Also, for some companies, selling jet cards is just part of their overall aviation and related business. Six companies say they have fewer than 20 employees while nine jet card sellers have over 300.
In the world of marketing jet cards and jet card memberships, two players are on their second tour. Kenny Dichter was co-founder and CEO of Marquis Jet before selling to NetJets and starting Wheels Up. Ricky Sitomer started Blue Star Jets before selling it to Apollo and starting Star Jets.