Clipper Jet says its by the seat private jet membership model is finally getting ready to take flight.
Perusing Google search results I came across a first page May 2015 article from AFAR titled “6 Jet Startups That Will Get You Flying Private.” JetSmarter, Victor and Surf Air are still alive and kicking. BlackJet and Beacon are out of business, and I hadn’t heard or seen anything from ClipperJet in years. However, when I went to their website, it was still up and running and in fact, there was a full page outlining its three membership options. In the press section, there was no coverage since the aforementioned piece and something from Conde Nast Traveler from April 2015. Wondering what was going on, I called the number on the website and it was answered by Paul Sanchez, one of the founders and an executive vice president.
Sanchez says ClipperJet is “still looking for capital…we never got off the ground in a full sense,” adding, “It looks like we have some funding coming in.” While declining to discuss details, he tells Private Jet Card Comparisons, “We had a really bad false start. We got defrauded, and it was tied up in courts.” With the lawsuits winding down, he says ClipperJet is now getting ready to take flight and will soon start selling memberships.
The initial route will link Teterboro Airport serving New York City with “small airports in Los Angeles” via six weekly roundtrips on a large Gulfstream. ClipperJet intends to buy and operate the aircraft via a partnership with a Part 135 operator.
According to the website, the three ClipperJet programs are:
However, Sanchez says when updated the prices will be $300 more per month.
A press release from ClipperJet issued in early 2014 states:
“For the past two months, ClipperJet has already secured commitments for almost 50% of its pre-start-up memberships and is now opening this option up to the general public. Total memberships are limited to 100 in Los Angeles and 100 in New York City. Anybody who travels the city pair once a month or more can justify a membership.”
“ClipperJet will quickly become the premier way to travel between Los Angeles and New York, with additional city pairs to follow.”
The old adage is good things come to those that wait. However, since its initial announcement, JetBlue has been expanding its Mint service while Delta Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines have enhanced their premium cabin offerings on flights between the West Coast and places like New York and Miami. On the opposite side, Alaska Airlines is dumbing down the first class product of Virgin America, which it bought and will discontinue this spring.
The key feature for ClipperJet users will be avoiding the commercial airport experience, even if American and United have set up fast track security for first class customers flying on key coast-to-coast routes. It will also have to battle against the frequency of the major players which offer as many as five to 10 nonstop flights per day on routes between San Francisco and Los Angeles and New York. Whether one roundtrip a day from ClipperJet can attract enough members may finally be ready to get tested in the market.