The year 2021 begins with one of the jet cards segment’s largest players coming off a record month and record year.
Collins tells Private Jet Card Comparisons Directional Aviation’s OneSky Flight unit cracked the $400 million mark in card sales for 2020. Other companies in the group include Flexjet, FXAIR, PrivateFly, and Tuvoli.
He had previously said 2019 sales were around $300 million, meaning the jet card provider saw jet card sales grow by 33% last year. Collins told Bloomberg he anticipates a 20% increase in 2021.
A big change is the mix of customers has switched. About two-thirds of the deals are coming from new customers versus renewals, which typically make up the majority.
What’s more, customers aren’t sitting on their deposits. Collins says flight activity in December was up 10% year-over-year.
“Our model has found a wheelhouse moment. People need to fly, and they need flexibility, and something like a jet card provides that. You don’t have to go through the arduous process of purchasing an asset,” Collins told Bloomberg.
He noted customers start buying at just 25 hours, and anywhere in the Continental U.S. can call for a private jet with as little as 10 hours notice. The Sentient program also provides fixed-one way rates. That means you don’t have to pay for repositioning flights. Deicing is also included.
Along with new customers, Collins says there has been a big shift in travel patterns. Instead of booking return flights, more customers are simply booking one-way trips as executives work remotely, and more kids are involved in virtual learning. “They’re staying for (an extended) time,” he notes.”
Popular destinations include warm-weather spots, particularly Florida and the Caribbean, and destinations with easy social distancing such as mountain spots.
Personal travel is the current fuel in Sentient’s strong growth. However, Collins predicts returning to normal business travel activity by mid-year if the economy stays on track.
“On the business side, the flying we think we are going to see is small deal teams, investment banking, consultants, where in-person is a necessity. You can’t just do due diligence in a data room. You’re going to do at least part of it in person,” he says, adding, “Less Zoom, more jet.”
Sentient recently launched a new ad campaign highlighting social distancing, including visuals with passengers and crews wearing masks. Collins says avoiding COVID-19 has been a key driver for new customers. At the beginning of summer, it launched a series of health protocol requirements for the operators it uses, including daily temperature checks.