Priester Aviation halts new customers for Centerline jet card program

By Doug Gollan, October 8, 2021

Chicago-based Priester Aviation is the latest jet card seller to put a pause on new customers as demand for private jets continues to surge

Add Chicago-based Priester Aviation to the list of jet card sellers that have halted taking new customers ahead of the holidays.

Last week, the operator, which carries top safety ratings from Argus and IS-BAO, stopped accepting new members for the time being.

Priester’s program is regional. It serves customers flying to or from many base airports. Regions include Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, and the Mountains, Minneapolis, New York, St. Louis, and South Florida.

It offers fixed rates by category with a 14 hours’ non-peak call-out window.

Corey Ruffalo, Priester’s head of sales & marketing, tells Private Jet Card Comparisons that the decision to halt new customers was difficult.

He says the company was getting a significant flow of inquiries for the program. The company is also expanding its managed fleet to add charter capacity.

Ruffalo believes the hiatus could end as soon as January. However, he says the immediate priority is servicing existing customers.

A move to jet cards

As on-demand charter pricing has spiked, more private flyers have been seeking shelter with fixed-rate jet card programs that offer guaranteed availability.

Despite recent price hikes for jet cards, an analysis last month showed in 25 of 30 scenarios flying with a jet card was cheaper than on-demand charter. The average savings per flight was $5,693.

However, card companies have to fulfill those flights after taking deposits, often on short notice. That’s something some think could be an issue over the upcoming holidays.

Yesterday, jet card broker Air Partner imposed fixed-rate blackouts. It expressed concern that it wouldn’t be able to source aircraft. It’s now offering the option to use funds for on-demand charters or take a refund. The dates cover just over 30 days spanning the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holiday period.

Last week, Sentient Jet and Jet Linx joined NetJets and Executive Jet Management, putting a stop to accepting new customers.

Despite the pullbacks, over 40 brokers and operators still sell fixed or capped rate jet cards with guaranteed availability in the U.S.

New York provider stopped in August but has since relaunched its card offering.

As we reported in early August, extra flying is moving up maintenance schedules. Parts and labor shortages mean repairs are taking longer. FBOs struggling with the surge in flights are having trouble keeping up. Over the past four weeks, flights to and from Florida have been 41% ahead of 2019 levels.

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