U.K.-based Air Partner has long had one of the better jet card programs, or as it calls it, JetCard. That’s based on the published rules. But, that’s not where it ends.
But before we look at what’s off the menu, let’s quickly recap its North America-based program as is.
The starting point to buy is just 10 hours, compared to 25 hours for many providers.
It offers fixed one-way rates, with service areas covering not only North America, but also Europe and the Middle East, so it’s a good fit if you fly on both sides of the pond.
It also offers fixed one-way rates across the North Atlantic, so you can fly back-and-forth without paying repositioning fees on 72 hours notice. One-way rate is $15,650 per hour and $13,300 per hour roundtrip.
All published U.S. prices include 7.5% Federal Excise Tax, so you don’t have to get your calculator out.
You also don’t have to worry about dipping into your wallet during the winter since de-icing is included in the price. So is gourmet catering for that matter.
You can upgrade or downgrade by cabin size – light, midsize, super-midsize, and large cabin – on a trip by trip basis at published rates – no interchange fees. Household pets are guaranteed.
Non-peak day lead time for reservations is just 12 hours – 96 hours on peak days, while peak day reservations are 96 hours and the same for cancelation, which we like.
There are 56 peak days – yes, that’s a lot. However, the surcharge is just 5%. Qualifying roundtrips save 20%.
You can also use JetCard deposits for on-demand charter. And when it comes to sourcing for its jet card program, it’s both a Wyvern-certified broker has an internal Quality Management System focused on safety. Which leads to another aspect of Air Partner.
Its typical private jet charters, both on-demand and through its jet membership offering, only reveal part of the company.
Its Baines Simmons division is a global aviation safety consultancy focused on supporting clients both on human safety and compliance with government regulations.
There is also a cargo division that stretches from offering onboard courier services to specialized solutions for the oil and gas industry, dangerous goods transport, humanitarian aid, and general cargo.
It doesn’t stop there. Clockwork Research specializes in fatigue risk management, including assessment, training, and consulting. SafeSkys supplies contracted air traffic control staff as well as training to bird and wildlife professionals at airports.
There’s also group charter, with clients spanning across sectors from head of states to NGOs, professional sports teams, plus music and entertainment, supporting live tours.
It’s not all roses. Air Partner is publicly traded in the U.K., and back in 1998, an accounting mistake from several years earlier caused it to make a $3 million restatement to its financials.
Today that’s in the rearview mirror. Analyst Canaccord Genuity which rates its stock a buy writes, “As one of the world’s leading air charter brokers, we believe Air Partner is well-positioned to benefit from the long-term growth trends in aviation. It continues to make good progress in its strategy of diversifying its revenue streams and aviation services portfolio.”
Most recently, Air Partner was in the news putting its expertise to work with large group Coronavirus evacuation flights, including chartering a Boeing 747-400 to bring home British and Irish citizens who had been quarantined on a cruise ship docked in Japan.
Overall, only 18% of revenues are from private jets, with 50% from group charter, 24% from freight, and the remainder from consulting and training.
In terms of areas that Air Partner goes beyond what’s in the fine print of its jet card program, during a visit to its Ft. Lauderdale office, the U.S. headquarters, senior vice president of sales Vincent Kavanaugh says there is now an escrow account option on request.
JetCard deposit money is normally held in completely segregated bank accounts, ensuring that client money is not co-mingled with Air Partner’s cash.
It is also offering guaranteed WiFi on request on super-midsize and large-cabin jets. In these instances, a lead time of 48 hours instead of 12 hours is required for booking, and it is done on a case-by-case basis.
One shortcoming of the Air Partner program for those of you who make short hops is the 90-minute albeit taxi time inclusive minimum for light jets.
However, Kavanagh says that based on specific city pairs, it will negotiate down to 60 minutes, which is best in class and broadens the appeal of its program, which already features attractive hourly rates.
Published light jet rates in the U.S. start at $5,300 per hour on light jets, although a second program it no longer promotes but still sells provides an entry point of $4,700 for older aircraft.
Funds are also refundable, but one more nuance is actually getting in. While the structure of JetCard is fairly standard with guaranteed availability, fixed one-way rates and a primary service area where they apply, Air Partner stress tests applicants.
In extending the fixed rates – where some trips a provider may make money, and other trips it might lose, Air Partner offers dynamic pricing options to folks whose flying wouldn’t make sense at its published hourly rates.
It’s an interesting approach. If you can eliminate customers, where you would lose on every flight or overall, you can then offer better rates to customers who drive profit.
The other aspect of Air Partner that’s a bit off-trend is its view on technology. While the company is enhancing data customers can access to check balances and reservations, it isn’t rushing into digitalizing away client contact.
Kavanagh says the company puts a strong emphasis on phone contact, something he says helps the company better understand the meaning of the trip.