Skyjet Explorer will compete in the private jet Membership segment, including Wheels Up, JetSmarter and XOJET
Choices, choices, choices. In the private jet card and membership sector, the diversity of offers continues to grow. Directional Aviation yesterday announced it is expanding its coverage of the private aviation travel market by introducing its first pay-as-you-fly membership program. The company, which owns Flexjet, Sentient Jet and Skyjet is using the latter to introduce the new product, billed as Skyjet Explorer. Flexjet sells fractional ownership shares and leases, plus jet cards; Sentient focuses exclusively on jet cards and until now Skyjet had been an on-demand charter provider.
“We are thrilled to introduce the Skyjet Explorer program and to expand on our pioneering digital platform to include a fixed rate, guaranteed travel solution,” said Andrew Collins, president and CEO of Skyjet in a press release. “With the launch of Skyjet Explorer, we are proud to offer an added layer of flexibility and savings, supported by one of the most impressive and innovative mobile booking tools in the industry.” Collins also oversees Sentient Jet and Skyjet is based in the same Braintree, MA headquarters as the jet card seller.
According to the release, Skyjet Explorer is designed as a travel solution for frequent charter fliers looking to upgrade to a more flexible product with fixed pricing and guaranteed availability 365 days a year, as well as first-class fliers entering the private aviation world.
Types of membership programs vary widely. For example, Wheels Up and JetLinx offer pay-as-you-go memberships with a fixed hourly rates, but also offer additional prepaid traditional jet card programs that provide more advantageous terms. JetSmarter membership provides access to shuttles and empty legs but uses dynamic pricing for on-demand charter flights. Surf Air memberships entitle you to reserve seats on scheduled flights sharing the plane with others but avoiding commercial terminals, thus saving time. This summer XOJET and Vistajet introduced membership fee-based programs, each with a combination of fixed and dynamic pricing for full aircraft charter.
Skyjet Explorer members will be able to book, manage, and make payment for flights instantly with new iOS and Android enabled apps. Skyjet says 25% of its bookings already come via its digital platforms. The app includes instant trip bookings via credit card, trip and account management capabilities, flight status and location-based push notifications, and a 24/7/365 live chat feature allowing for immediate assistance.
Skyjet annual membership is $9,500 and hourly rates are locked in from the date of sign-up, with the exception of European rates, which are subject to change on 30 days notice. Explorers are able to choose between four jet size categories for each trip with as little as 10 hours notice for reservations on standard days to a network of over 1,000 Skyjet approved aircraft.
On its website, Skyjet publishes rates for the Continental U.S. flights that either originate or terminate within a 200-nautical- mile radius of the Continental U.S., additional destinations in Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean, as well intra-Europe. Call out for Mexico beyond 200 nautical miles and the Caribbean requires 72 hours, again non-peak. There are no positioning or ferry charges for the Explorer program, an advantage over the typical on-demand charter. Taxi time is billed at 12 minutes per leg. For travel on designated Peak Travel Days, flights must be booked a minimum of 120 hours in advance. There is also a 15% discount for qualifying roundtrips.
U.S. fixed hourly rates for Skyjet Explorer start at $4,975 per hour for Light Jets, $6,719 for Mid Size, $8,871 for Super-Mid and $11,167 per hour for Heavy Jets. Rates exclude 7.5% Federal Excise Tax (FET). See chart below.
If you are wondering how the above rates compare to Sentient, for its 25-hour Select Jet Card, you pay (excluding FET) $4,738 per hour for a Light Jet, $6,399 per hour for Mid, $8,448 for Super-Mid and $10,635 for Heavy Jets. In other words, Explorers pay a 5% premium, plus you have to divide the $9,500 membership fee into the number of hours you end up flying. For example, if you fly 25 hours as an Explorer, the up front membership fees translates to an extra $380 per flight hour.
For Bermuda, Caribbean and Mexico beyond 200 nautical miles, Explorer hourly rates are $5,473 per hour, $7,391 for Mid, $9,758 for Super-Mid and $12,284 for Heavy Jets per hour, again, excluding FET at 7.5%. Caribbean destinations include Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Trinidad, Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands, and the US and British Virgin Islands. See below pricing chart.
Skyjet traces its roots to 1997. It was later acquired by aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, when it owned Flexjet, and came to Directional as part of its acquisition of Flexjet in 2013.