Here’s a surprise: Business aviation accounts for nearly 29% of all consumer spending on air travel in the United States and has nearly the same daily flight activity as commercial aviation, however, the process of booking private jet charters is still very much based on phone calls and emails.
Stellar Labs, Inc. which says it enables real-time bookings of on-demand private jet charters, today announced it has raised $26.3 million in Series A equity financing from Global Jet Capital, a provider of corporate aircraft financing solutions capitalized by The Carlyle Group, Blackstone’s GSO Capital Partners, and AE Industrial Partners, Columbia Equity Partners and Expa. In a press release, Stellar said combined with previous equity rounds and funding from Rockwell Collins, Stellar is investing over $50 million in its next-generation technology platform for business aviation. The company projects advances like it is making will triple the charter market in the next “six to eight years.”
“When we founded Stellar in 2014, the industry basically ran on technology built before the internet era,” said Stellar co-founder and CEO David Fox. “In commercial aviation, innovations in advanced technologies drove ticket prices down 73% and increased access to regional communities over the last two decades, despite rising fuel prices of 400%.”
“We believe similar efficiency gains can be achieved in business aviation—giving rise to an upcoming revolution in the access to and use of business aviation by the general public,” added co-founder Paul Touw.
Bryan Flynn of Columbia Equity Partners, said, “Business aviation is riddled with inefficiencies, from overhead and transaction costs of 40%, to a nearly 38% non-revenue or ‘deadhead’ rate, to asset utilization rates one-eighth that of commercial airlines. Stellar is on the verge of solving these problems and even incremental improvements to these metrics could cut on-demand charter costs by more than one-third.”
To achieve the predicted growth, Stellar, in partnership with Rockwell Collins, is developing a next-generation, completely unified, cloud-based operating platform that will combine all of the market-leading flight operations planning functionality of ARINCDirectSM FOS (Flight Operations System) with Stellar’s global distribution systems and commercial operations technology. Stellar will introduce its fully integrated commercial operations, revenue management, aircraft operations, crew management, and digital global distribution system for the business aviation market at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Convention in Las Vegas next week.
Two U.K. providers have also been claiming to advance the technology of booking private jet charters. Private Fly and Victor have focused attention to online bookings, although the reservations requests are not fulfilled in real time. A third, Stratajet has been claiming to provide real-time inventory like Stellar. One hiccup to all attempts is that many of the aircraft available on the charter market require owner approval before they can be formally committed. It’s that step between the jet operator and owner that some refer to as “the longest yard.”