ImagineAir, a Georgia-based operator of Cirrus SR22s, which last November had said it planned to double its fleet of 14 single-engine aircraft has suspended operations, Private Jet Card Comparisons has learned. An email sent by the company said flights were suspended on May 24, 2018, although the email apparently only was sent to members and brokers in the past 24 hours. The company’s website is still active and is pricing flights, and we were able to get to where they wanted our credit card data for payment. Likewise, there was still an active area for members to use credits to pay for flights. Calls to the phone number listed on its website returned a busy signal.
Founded in 2005, according to an April 2016 profile on the Inc. magazine website, ImagineAir was ranked 399th in the 2015 Inc. 5000 list, although it is not on the current list. Then CEO Benjamin Hamilton, a co-founder, who was interviewed for the article told the reporter, since 2012, revenue had grown 980% to $2.8 million in 2015. He also said ImagineAir at that point was serving 1,000 regional airports in the eastern United States and was “eyeing” expansion westward. It’s unclear what happened since that point, however, as of today its website still says, “ImagineAir currently services over 1,000 airports in the Eastern U.S.” The article also foreshadowed future challenges, stating, “Scaling the business with its high overhead costs–each aircraft costs ImagineAir around $700,000–has been tough.” Manager Magazine reported the ImagineAir was operating the largest Cirrus SR22 fleet in the world.
Canadian charter broker Justin Crabbe, the CEO of Jettly said he had been using ImagineAir for short hops, and service and pricing had been good. He said he was surprised when he received the below email earlier today:
Dear ImagineAir customers –
It is with great regret that the Board of ImagineAir and the company’s leadership announce the suspension of operations effective 11pm ET, May 24, 2018.
While the potential of ImagineAir never dimmed, the company’s leadership and advisors were unable to secure the necessary short-term funding to continue operations, nor the long-term funding to scale the company to profitable scale.
The customers of ImagineAir have always been our highest priority as we sought to build a large-scale, technology-enabled personal air travel enterprise.
ImagineAir’s leaders and investors aren’t jumping ship—they merely cannot find a means to fund ongoing losses, despite vigorous efforts which continued until early this morning. We will work to settle the affairs of the business as expeditiously as possible and will work to best protect the interests of our employees, customers, investors and vendors.
Thank you for your business, loyalty and belief in what ImagineAir could have become.
ImagineAir’s Board and leadership
In addition to on-demand charter, ImagineAir also was selling three levels of jet cards with Silver priced at $12,500, Gold at $25,000 and Platinum at $50,000. Based on deposit, members received either a 7% discount on flights if they were Silver members or 15% for Gold and Platinum. The top tier members also received a fare cap, guaranteed availability with 48 hours notice, free cancellations, 15 minutes of wait time for free and unlimited account members.
It is unclear how many members ImagineAir had and whether or not there was any protection via an escrow account. The company had not responded to several attempts by Private Jet Card Comparisons to provide their data for our 65-point comparisons charts and thus is not part of our database.
A November 2017 report in Aviation International News quoted Hamilton, still the CEO, speaking at the U.S. Corporate Aviation Summit in Washington D.C., as saying he planned to double its then fleet of 14 aircraft and add more bases. At the time, he said there were five bases “mostly in the Southeast, but also in New England.” He said he wanted to add bases in the mid-Atlantic and in Florida.
Hamilton told attendees, “Regional travel is highly inefficient. It takes almost as long to drive from Alexandria, Virginia, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, as it does to fly from Washington Dulles International Airport to Dublin, Ireland.” During the same meeting, Hamilton said the company was being constrained by lack of qualified pilots. The company was using a dynamic pricing model, meaning rates varied based on operational factors and demand.
A review of Hamilton’s LinkedIn profile shows as of January 2018, he gave up the CEO position to become director of operations, a title it says he currently holds. New York-based Richard Humphrey is listed currently as chairman, a position he has apparently held since 2014. Curtis Brunjes, a former Oliver Wyman aviation consultant, is listed as the current CEO.
When we looked for pricing today from Teterboro to Charlottesville on June 4, 2018, we were offered jet charter prices ranging from $2,282 one-way to $2,895 which would have been good for up to three people. We were able to get to a page that accepted payment or enabled members to use credits to pay. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are both selling one-way tickets on the same date from La Guardia Airport for $475 each.
ImagineAir’s shutdown follows the Chapter 11 and subsequent Chapter 7 filing of Zetta Jet last year. Zetta Jet was operating on the other end of the spectrum with long-range Bombardier Global Express jets. Its shutdown, amid accusations of fraud, left more than $50 million in unpaid bills as well as consumers who lost money via its jet card program or had prepaid charter flights at prices over $100,000 where the money was not secure.
On May 25th, a day after ImagineAir said it had suspended operations, it posted it was hiring pilots on Twitter. The tweet read, “Check out our career’s page – we are always looking to grow our staff and welcome more members to our ImagineAir family.”