JetSuite has announced a new round of funding to grow both its JetSuite jet card and on-demand charter business and its by the seat JetSuiteX fleet and flights.
Let the good times roll. Private aviation is continuing to attract investors from celebrities and private equity to energy companies and even commercial airlines. Earlier today, JetSuite announced that it had raised an undisclosed amount of money from Qatar Airways. There is also additional funding from JetBlue Airways, which had previously invested in 2016. The news comes on the heels of recent investments in Wheels Up, VistaJet, Victor, JetSmarter and Stellar.aero which totaled over $500 million. Earlier this year, XOJET said it had hired Perella Weinberg to explore options, including capital raise, merger, the sale of the company or a strategic alliance.
In the case of JetSuite, the new funds will be used to expand both JetSuite, which sells jet cards via its SuiteKey program and on-demand charter, plus JetSuiteX, its scheduled public charter flights that enable customers to save 90 to 120 minutes by using private aviation facilities and bypassing the commercial airport terminals.
JetSuite CEO Alex Wilcox said JetSuiteX will add six to 12 Embraer 135s per year for the foreseeable future, while the JetSuite fleet will continue to expand, although he declined to discuss details. The latter currently operates Embraer Phenom 100s and 300s, both light jets as well as a Legacy 650 via management, the latter having the range to fly to Hawaii or across the Atlantic. Currently, JetSuite has 22 jets while JetSuiteX has five with two more coming online by July.
JetSuite’s SuiteKey programs begin at $50,000 and range to $400,000 providing a route-based fixed pricing model. Wilcox says JetSuite will continue to focus on value. The company eschews luxury partnerships and VIP hospitality favored by many providers in the category. Hourly rates start at $3,575, not including the 7.5% Federal Excise Tax (FET). Program service area includes the Continental U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, including Cuba. In terms of safety ratings, JetSuite is IS-BAO Stage 2, Wyvern Wingman and ARGUS Platinum, the latter’s highest level. Program hours don’t expire, however, funds are non-refundable and there is no escrow account option. The undisclosed but “significant” investments should provide peace of mind.
Other positive features of the program include including de-icing charges, something relevant if you do a lot of winter flying. De-icing can cost up to $10,000 per incidence. There are no dues or membership fees, nor fuel surcharges. There is no lead time required for reservations, but also no guaranteed availability. That said, only members can reserve flights more than 90 days in advance, making the program particularly attractive if you can plan in advance. Two areas SuiteKey really stands out is that there are no peak-day surcharges, which typically range from 5% to 20%, and there are no charges for taxi time. The industry standard for jet cards is 12 minutes, something that can add up on the short hops that the Phenom 100s and 300s are ideally suited for.
Qatar Airways also is also involved in private aviation, operating a fleet of Bombardier Global Express and Challenges, plus the Gulfstream G650, so focused on long-range and ultra-long-range aircraft in the Super Mid and Large Jet categories via Qatar Executive. Qatar Executive does not have a jet card program.