The jet card broker is launching fixed-rate, guaranteed availability between the U.S. and Europe
U.K.-based charter broker Air Partner will announce later today it has signed up six charter operators who will provide more than 50 long-range private jets for new fixed-rate, guaranteed availability jet card pricing between the U.S. and Europe.
With a buy-in starting at just 10 hours, and the ability to refund unused funds, the new offering is likely to have a wide appeal for its target market, particularly travelers who want set pricing but don’t fly enough to make multi-year commitments to key competitors for the route such as NetJets, Flexjet and Vistajet.
The new cross the pond rates connect Air Partner’s existing fixed-rate, guaranteed availability primary service areas for its jet card customers covering the U.S., Caribbean, and Europe. Air Partner is one of the few jet card programs offering fixed rates for flights within both the U.S and Europe.
“Over the past few years, we’ve noticed increasing demand for an improved transatlantic option to better connect our clients in the United States with Europe,” said David McCown, president of Air Partner U.S. “We’re dedicated to continuously creating innovative travel solutions to best serve our customers, and we are pleased to today become the first jet membership program to offer a fixed Trans-Atlantic rate.”
Transatlantic jet card pricing
Beyond a cost of $15,650 per hour with a seven-hour segment minimum, there is a 15% roundtrip discount based on an average of at least four flight hours per day.
That means if you tallied 20 flight hours, you could take a five-day trip (20 hours divided by 4 hours average per day = 5 days) and earn the 15% discount, bringing your transatlantic hourly rate down to $13,300 per hour.
Air Partner estimates Teterboro to London Luton using its JetCard would cost $109,550 on a one-way basis and $93,118 each way based on a roundtrip.
From Washington D.C. to Paris Le Burget, the estimated charter price would be $117,845 on a one-way basis, and $100,168 if you can qualify for the roundtrip discount.
Westchester County to Zurich would run $101,365 on a roundtrip basis or $119,253 based on the one-way fixed hourly rate.
What’s particularly attractive is hours spent on local legs of the trip either flying within the U.S. or Europe count in qualifying for the roundtrip discount.
Even better, they can be done at Air Partner’s fixed rates on light, midsize or super-midsize aircraft. Air Partner allows users to upgrade and downgrade the cabin category without interchange fees.
The program is being sold in U.S. dollars regardless of where you are based, so the buy-in starts at $156,500, however, unused funds are refundable.
Lead time and cancellation windows
Non-peak day lead-time for reservations at the fixed rate is 96 hours while you can cancel without penalty up until 72 hours before departure. On 40 peak days, the lead time for reservations is 120 hours and cancellation is 168 hours.
Deicing and catering are included as are landing fees and at least 12 seats are guaranteed.
What type of private jets?
Aircraft are the year 2000 delivery or newer and include Gulfstream’s GV, G550, G650, Bombardier’s Global Express, Global 5000 and 6000, and Dassault’s Falcon 7X and 8X.
For flights needing extra crew, and crew repositioning as well as ferry flights, there are no extra charges and it is all included in the hourly rate, so the program is cleanly designed, seemingly without many caveats or small print.
While Air Partner doesn’t guarantee replacement aircraft like its regular JetCard offerings, Vincent Kavanagh, its senior vice president of sales, tells Private Jet Card Comparisons contingency planning includes tracking backup aircraft availability in case there is a last-minute mechanical.
Private jet safety
A Wyvern-certified broker, in regards to safety, Air Partner has an internal Quality Management System. This system, in addition to national safety requirements from the European and American aviation authorities, systematically uses Wyvern Wingman, Argus Platinum or Gold Plus rating, IS-BAO certification, and IOSA certification for sourcing.
Air Partner claims its Preferred Operator Network has the industry’s highest IS-BAO ratings.
In terms of transatlantic fleet, Wifi varies based on aircraft and in some cases are included, while in others will incur an extra charge, with clients being advised in advance.
Kavanagh, a veteran of NetJets and VistaJet, said Air Partner will also create bespoke fixed-rate programs for customers flying outside the primary transatlantic service area, for example from Canada to Europe or from Ukraine to the U.S. He said the program was designed with the help of data from Wing-X.
A low commitment solution
Currently, outside of fractional ownership or leases, which require a minimum of three-year commitments, there isn’t much in terms of published fixed-rate, guaranteed availability programs across the Atlantic.
Flexjet recently re-launched its Gulfstream G650 share/lease offerings basing it on 75 days of usage for a quarter share instead of the traditional 200 hours however it is only available for clients based in New York or London.
In addition to a multitude of fractional and lease offerings, NetJets sells a Gulfstream GIV jet card in denominations of 25 and 50 hours, and all customers can upgrade to large cabin transatlantic aircraft on an as-available basis at an interchange rate.
While VistaJet has made its mark with long-haul non-ownership guaranteed availability, fixed-rate solutions, its Program is generally believed to require a minimum of 50 hours, usually with a three-year commitment.
Air Partner’s target market
Kavanagh believes Air Partner’s offering starting at 10 hours and its roundtrip discount will attract companies, particularly for executive teams who then need to hop around once they’ve crossed the pond.
He said he also sees demand from companies that own private jets they use for intra-continental flights, but haven’t had a low commitment fixed rate option they can accurately budget for transatlantic flights.
In some cases, the new Air Partner offering may attract companies away from commercial airlines flying between cities without direct service.
As an example of time-saving, a trip from Birmingham, Alabama to Birmingham, England would take nearly 14 hours eastbound and two connections flying commercially, but can be done in less than eight and a half hours on a private jet, according to Airplane Manager.
In other words, a trip that would eat up a minimum of three business days could now be done in 24 hours and just one day away from the office.
The program should also be appealing to folks who may fly a couple of times a year for leisure, perhaps in conjunction with a yacht charter or vacation, know their general dates months in advance but want to have locked in pricing without having to commit.
Air Partner JetCard flexibility
Jet card deposits can also be used for on-demand charter, and with the short-lead time for bookings, for any transatlantic private jet fliers, a 10-hour deposit enables you to arbitrage the on-demand market, perhaps switching solutions based on trip-by-trip advantage.
For both corporate and leisure customers who are frustrated by on-demand charter variations of standards and pricing from trip to trip, the Air Partner program offers attractive ways to effectively budget your travel in advance.
For fliers who are traveling across the Atlantic, particularly between city pairs that don’t have nonstop service, the program is sure to draw interest. The biggest question is how long other providers are willing to wait before they also jump in, or if they are willing to cede this niche to Air Partner.
A 2017 study by Conklin & de Decker rated Air Partner’s jet card the most flexible. The company is publicly traded in the U.K. You can compare Air Partner’s JetCard program to over 300 jet card programs by subscribing to Private Jet Card Comparisons.