If 2017 was the year of the Jet Card with big sales increases, new entrants and new products, 2018 may hold even more twists and turns.
In the spirit of sticking out our neck and hoping you don’t look back at our predictions come New Year’s 2019, we have looked into our crystal ball and assembled five trends we think are worth paying attention to if you are shopping for a Jet Card.
We predict 2018 will bring new jet card players to the U.S. Well, we cheated a bit since Victor CEO Clive Jacobs already told Private Jet Card Comparisons the U.K.-based company would launch a deposit program on this side of the pond. However, don’t be surprised if a couple other name players on the charter operator and broker side of the business decide to jump in. We also expect Jet Linx Aviation to open a base in New York sometime this year. It has 14 so far and recently signed its 100th aircraft under management. With more card programs starting at $50,000 deposit, pay-as-you-go or at 10 hours of flight time, the market for Jet Cards has broadened.
StraightLine Private Air, Wheels Up and Nicholas Air have joined the likes of Surf Air and fractional share provider PlaneSense to show there is a market for turboprops and even piston aircraft. It makes sense: With Jet Card programs typically charging a minimum of 60 minutes of flight time plus 12 minutes of taxi time per segment, going on a prop aircraft can provide considerable savings. What’s more, the modern cabin design of the King Air 350i fleet and the Surf Air Pilatus PC-12 provide a comfort level approaching Light Jets, often with more space than Very Light Jets.
Victor’s Clive Jacobs (like many others) was wrong when he tried to compare his then start-up several years ago to Uber, but he was spot on when he identified the unregulated broker markups of the on-demand charter market. That’s not saying there aren’t very good brokers who earn what markup they can get – higher on some trips and lower on others. But, we think when Victor said it would offer a fixed markup over operator pricing, it hit on something. Wholesale Jet Club, Jettly and Paramount Business Jets have all replicated it in different forms. We think there might be some traction.
XOJET may have surprised the industry when it rolled out both membership and monthly fees, but its CEO Bradley Stewart unapologetically said it was to cover the company’s overhead of providing attentive, 24/7 service and support. Sentient Jet sister SkyJet rolled out a program with Guaranteed One-Way Hourly Rates and Guaranteed Availability with a membership fee. Wheels Up and Jet Linx Aviation were already there. With the Jet Card market seemingly having enjoyed a banner year with strong growth and more tailwinds expected, we think the segment has demonstrated its value compared to other options, and we expect to see sellers try to increasingly use membership fees to cover the costs of providing high touch service that offers expertise and adds value to the private aviation experience.
In addition to buying Jet Cards by hours and dollars, we have seen mileage (Airstream Jets) and days (Executive AirShare) used. Delta Air Lines now allows you to use SkyMiles to buy Jet Cards, which means you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to SkyMiles and use them as currency to buy cards from DPJ. Dynamic Pricing, which uses market-based rates instead of the traditional Guaranteed One-Way Hourly rates, is increasingly featured in Jet Card products. We’ve also seen some traction with Fixed Markup pricing as noted.
In 2017, EcoJets launched a cash back card giving cash credits onto VISA and MasterCard debit cards. While not pricing per se, we saw Wheels Up, XOJET and Sentient Jet continue to build up their portfolios of luxury lifestyle partnerships. When we analyzed the Sentient program, based on free nights and discounts on jewelry, watches and other goodies, we came up with just under $40,000 in potential savings. What twists will we see in 2018? We’re not sure, be we are sure there will be some innovations in how Jet Cards are sold.