JetCard Plus, a private jet charter broker, closed earlier this year after it was hit by a $220,000 judgment in favor of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin
Paul M. Svensen is registered as manager of UberJets LLC in Massachusetts and listed as CEO on its NBAA membership page. His LinkedIn profile still lists him as sales director of JetCard Plus
Paul A. Svensen Jr. was CEO of JetCard Plus, which is no longer an active company, and before that, COO of Jet Network LLC, a jet card seller that went into bankruptcy around 2007
In 2016, Paul A. Svensen Jr. registered another aviation business at the same Hingham, Massachusetts, address where Paul M. Svensen registered UberJets LLC, in August 2017
FlyUberjets.com promises members savings on full aircraft charters and empty leg flights
UberJets LLC denies any affiliation to Paul A. Svensen Jr. or JetCard Plus
UberJets LLC, a charter broker selling private jet memberships from a Park Avenue address in New York City promises “unlimited access to book and travel worldwide to luxury lifestyle destinations.”
It denies having any affiliation to a private aviation company that closed earlier this year amid litigation and a top executive, Paul A. Svensen Jr., who was CEO of that company and COO of another that also failed.
To save confusion, there are no ties between UberJets LLC and Uber Technologies, the ridesharing platform, or its Uber Elevate and Uber Air entries into private aviation and jet sharing.
Back to UberJets LLC.
In May, a Florida court ordered JetCard Plus Inc. of Miami, where Paul A. Svensen Jr. was CEO, to pay $219,692 to Steven T. Mnuchin, Inc. According to the Treasury Secretary’s lawsuit, after terminating his membership money due back to him was never refunded.
Paul M. Svensen’s LinkedIn profile lists himself as sales director of JetCard Plus. In UberJets’ LLC registration he is listed as manager and on the company’s NBAA membership page he is listed as CEO. And there’s more.
But first, a bit about UberJets.
The website listing a New York City address reads, “UberJets was founded by a group of highly experienced private aviation and technology experts with a shared vision to bring travel into the 21st century delivering deep industry experience and today’s latest technology platforms.”
It continues, “Our quick tap and book app connects thousands of the top safety rated private aircraft in the United States and worldwide connecting the top achievers in sports, business and entertainment to over 5,500 locations that commercial aircraft can’t access…freedom to Live, Fly, Repeat!”
Yes…It is exactly like Uber for jets.UberJets website
It promises, ”UberJets members can book and order an aircraft, locate open seats on flights created by other members, or hop on empty leg aircraft.”
It claims, “ Yes…It is exactly like Uber for jets.”
Jet membership pricing
Membership is priced at $14,500, which includes a $5,000 initiation fee and $9,500 annual charge. It offers deals on seats aboard private flights, jet sharing opportunities, discounted empty leg flights and the ability to charter entire jets.
Flyuberjets.com lists its business name as UberJets LLC, and the only address on its website is a location on Park Avenue in New York City. However, a search of New York State records (below) failed to find a registration for UberJets or Uber Jets.
Records from Massachusetts did reveal an UberJets LLC listing Paul M. Svensen as the manager. Its certificate was issued on Aug. 23, 2017. It lists an address in Hingham at 1 Derby Street.
An unofficial Jet Card Plus Facebook page (below) specifies 1 Derby Street in Hingham, although the company’s actual website listed 99 Derby Street, four-tenths of a mile away. A Whitepages search shows the phone number listed on the page as having been assigned to JetCardPlus. A B2B Yellow Pages listing offers the same information. Both list 1 Derby Street as an address for Jet Card Plus.
The 1 Derby St. address where UberJets LLC is registered was also used a year earlier by Paul A. Svensen Jr. to register Bizjet-Quote LLC and appears on that company’s official Facebook page (below).
At the time Paul M. Svensen was registering UberJets LLC in the Bay State, according to his Linkedin profile (below), he was sales director with JetCard Plus, a position he started in 2013.
The LinkedIn profile also states that he was due to graduate from Johnson & Wales University in 2017, the same year UberJets was registered as a business. One month after he registered the company in September 2017, Paul A. Svensen Jr. filed for bankruptcy in Florida.
Cara Sullivan lists herself as private aviation regional manager at both UberJets and JetCard Plus on LinkedIn (below). Her profile connects to an UberJets business page linked to the Flyuberjets.com domain. Sullivan didn’t respond to an interview request.
Greg Frost, who identified himself as a vice president of UberJets and said he has been with the company since its early days, initially told me Paul M. Svensen “was involved in technology.” When asked about JetCard Plus, he said he wasn’t familiar with the company and added, “To my knowledge, there is no connection.”
Asked about Sullivan, he said he wasn’t familiar with her and didn’t believe she was an employee with the company. He declined to identify the CEO, other executives or owners saying, “It’s privately held. It’s a group of young folks.”
Off the record
Later in the conversation, he said the discussion was off the record and claimed he had said so at the beginning of the call.
He requested questions to be submitted in writing. At that point, it wasn’t clear that the Massachusetts LLC was definitively connected to the New York business using the same name, so I asked:
1. Who is your CEO?
2. Who are your owners?
3. Where is your LLC registered?
4. What is Paul M. Svensen’s role with your company?
5. Is Paul A. Svensen Jr. an owner or investor?
In my email, which provided Frost with screenshots of the Massachusetts registration for UberJets LLC, LinkedIn profiles and other information incorporated in this article, I wrote, “If this is a case of two UberJets — let’s clear it up — as I plan to write about the one affiliated with Svensen.”
I also reached a person who answered a Miami phone number and identified himself as Paul M. Svensen, who said he was affiliated with UberJets, and his company had offices in Massachusetts, Florida, and New York.
When I asked if he had been connected with JetCard Plus and his relationship to Paul A. Svensen Jr., he said, “I’m Paul Svensen,” then added he was busy and asked me to call him the next day.
Svensen didn’t respond to follow-up requests to clarify his relationship to Paul A. Svensen Jr. or the timing of his tenure with JetCard Plus.
Frost provided a written response to my questions. He reiterated UberJets is privately held without providing additional details.
Regarding its CEO, he said an executive search is being conducted with a focus on “prior street-proven successful information technology management.”
As to where its LLC is registered, he responded, the company is “headquartered (in) New York, Park Ave with base area offices in Massachusetts and California, Florida, New York.”
He described Paul M. Svensen’s role as “Boston area tech marketing team leader.” He said Paul A. Svensen Jr. has “no affiliation to UberJets.”
Later on, I found a membership page on the website of the National Business Aviation Association (above) for UberJets, LLC using Flyuberjets.com and listing Paul Matthew Svensen as CEO.
When I showed it to Frost, he responded that Svensen is not the CEO of UberJets and explained the above by writing: “The tech group claims that lots of things they needed to sign up for or create a license require a placeholder name at the company to get set up. The NBAA form looks boilerplate with CEO box needing to be filled from what you sent us so it makes sense. They said some ask for accounting others ask for CEO, etc.”
He again declined to name any other executives citing competitive reasons.
Empty leg pricing
Speaking at length, Frost told me UberJets has “thousands of happy customers.” He also said it doesn’t sell jet cards but is pay-as-you-go, so in other words, customers aren’t making six-figure deposits.
Frost compared UberJets to a tech-driven Costco. According to its website, along with full charters, “UberJets additionally specializes in discounted one-way empty legs.”
At least some pricing for the repositioning flights on its website appears to be the same as listings from Flyeasy.co (below).
Both were offering an empty leg flight from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 4-5 aboard an Embraer Phenom 300 for $5,000.
On the same dates, UberJets, and Fly Easy each offered an empty leg on a Bombardier Challenger 601 from Van Nuys to Las Vegas for $6,950.
Fly Easy is targeted at B2B, but consumers can sign up for a free account and review the listings. You then email the actual flight operator to negotiate the details, including potentially better pricing.
Frost responded to a follow-up question on whether or not customers of UberJets get lower rates than those it posts publicly on its website via email.
He said it typically varies by 10% in either direction depending on how flexible clients are. He also said the company uses a variety of sources for empty legs.
A few days later I found an empty leg on a Falcon 2000x from Bozeman, Montana, to San Jose, Calfornia advertised on Fly Easy and UberJets for $16,000. Victor, a broker was offering the same flight for $17,506, and New Flight Charters, another broker, at $17,000, however, neither have a membership fee.
I looked at more examples, and with the exception of Fly Easy pricing, UberJets was less expensive than other brokers who were advertising the same empty legs.
Shaan Bhanji, CEO of Fly Easy Software told me, “UberJets is a subscriber of our software platform.” He said his company provides a variety of technology solutions to brokers, including a white-label booking platform for full aircraft charters.
In terms of chartering an entire private aircraft, there are hundreds if not thousands of brokers that will arrange flights without a membership fee, so on the surface, it’s unclear the value paying to join UberJets.
Frost wrote in an email, “The benefit of the UberJets technology platform is that there is a very small mark up, just a few percentage points like Costco over the (prices Part) 135 operators quote to us.”
He added, “This creates more direct revenue for aircraft owners who are UberJets enrolled members, as well as new revenue streams for the actual 135 operators without the huge investment in a large multitiered system like ours.”
He claimed, “As UberJets grows, the aircraft owners and 135 operators become partners in that growth thus benefiting all long term.”
In terms of savings, he said UberJets recently sourced a flight for the spouse of a MarquisJet customer at nearly half the price. The customer was so happy that his referrals spurred more than a dozen new clients.
There are no records of complaints against UberJets with the Better Business Bureau in either New York, Miami or Boston. The app linked from its website has just three reviews with Apple, all five stars, as did its single review on Yelp.
Six Google reviews over 10 months were all five stars. A review by Michael Walker was typical. He wrote, “Good app features… Easy to book flights. Big fan of the Challenger 350 they just put me on. Great experience.”
That said, in the cases of JetSmarter and Atlanta-based Ascension Aviation, after initial high marks, consumer review scores plummeted and lawsuits followed.
I asked Frost to talk to speak with customers and Part 135 charter operators it uses, and he said he would try, but didn’t respond when I followed up.
JetCard Plus lawsuits
In addition to the Mnuchin judgment against it, JetCard Plus, Jet Network LLC, and Paul A. Svensen Jr. have been involved in additional litigation.
In California, Elite Aviation alleged JetCard Plus failed to pay more than $220,000 in 2009 for jet card flights. JetCard Plus alleged Elite had failed to invest a promised $2 million into the company.
A lawsuit against JetCard Plus, Inc. in Florida dating to 2014 resulted in a $111,944 judgment against it, the amount of an unused deposit the plaintiff was seeking returned.
Another report shows Richard and Sheila Asher were awarded $35,155 in 2016 in an action naming JetCard Plus, Inc. and Paul A. Svensen Jr.
A March 2008 article in South Florida Business Journal, reported, “One day, Paul (A.) Svensen Jr. was the COO at Jet Network LLC. The next, he started another air charter company (Jet Network FC Holdings Corp).
At the time, Svensen Jr. told the paper, “There is zero connection between the two companies. The companies are not the same. There are no similarities of ownership.”
His new company, according to the article, initially also traded under the Jet Network name although over a period of time the Jet Network website went away and by the middle of 2008, there was a website for JetCard Plus.
Jet Network FC Holdings Corp. was registered using a Hingham address on April Fool’s Day in 2008. JetCard Plus, Inc. was registered three weeks earlier in Florida. Both official filings listed Paul A. Svensen Jr. Both are now defunct.
In March 2009, Aviation International News reported, “The U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Florida, issued an order late last month holding Jet Network FC Holdings, JetCard Plus and JetCard CEO Paul (A.) Svensen (Jr.) in contempt of court for allegedly violating a December 8 court order to submit documents and information about Svensen’s former employer, Jet Network LLC.”
It noted, “The Florida Secretary of State administratively dissolved Jet Network LLC in 2007 and the IRS seized a majority the company’s assets.”
A November 2009 article by South Florida Business Journal said Jet Network LLC was facing $27 million in claims.
Svensen, according to reports, filed at least six lawsuits against people he alleged were owners of Jet Network LLC and whose actions he believed led to the company’s demise. He also sued at least one former customer.
Svensen’s LinkedIn profile (above) shows he started as chief executive officer of JetCard Plus in October 2007 but doesn’t mention his prior role as COO of Jet Network LLC, only listing a previous position as “Founder, Senior Director” of Massachusett’s based Sentient Jet from 1998 to 2004.
A representative of Sentient could not confirm if that was accurate. Sentient has been owned by Directional Aviation since 2014 when it was acquired from Macquarie Global Opportunity Partners.
A hub for private aviation
A Massachusetts registration dating back to 2008 for Jet Network FC Holdings Corp. listing Paul A. Svensen Jr. shows the company located in Hingham at a different address from UberJets LLC.
Another registration filed in 2016 naming Paul A. Svensen Jr. for Bizjet-Quote, LCC, used the same 1 Derby Street address (below) as UberJets LLC and Paul M. Svensen as did the Facebook page for Bizjet-Quote.
In a written statement, Frost wrote, “I confirmed that UberJets selected its Boston area location for its close proximity to leading aviation competitors Sentient Jet, Jetcardplus and Magellan Jets, all based within several miles in a calculated effort to help feed off of the local well-developed private aviation talent pool.”
He continued, “As an aviation technology pioneer, it was important for UberJets to attract some brick and mortar industry talent. To answer your question, we have attracted several people from each of those companies including one who briefly worked for Jetcardplus while in high school back over five years ago.”
The LinkedIn company profile for UberJets (below) currently lists eight employee profiles with only two by name, including Sullivan, who also lists JetCard Plus as her only other experience. The other named employee, Shannon Kelly, shows UberJets as her only work experience.
Frost’s email to me concluded, “Any claims you personally may make in your website’s article that UberJets is affiliated to any of the mentioned companies is baseless and simply not factual.”
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