Start-up Instajet is dropping instant on-demand pricing and guaranteed availability fixed-route pricing and now will offer by-the-day charter flights.
Instajet is hoping its third try is the charm. After launching last year with on-demand instant pricing and then adding fixed-rate route pricing with guaranteed availability, the U.K.-based broker is stopping both offers. At the same time, it is launching a new by-the-day charter concept in the U.S.
Founder and CEO Nick Davis says the initial forays failed due to a lack of available charter aircraft. The route pricing was based on a monthly subscription. After struggling to source flights, Davis says that the company has now refunded fees to members and wound down the program.
He will again try to offer an innovative approach to the market. JetAhead allows you a full day’s use of charter jets. With supply still short, Davis says he has capacity covered this time. He has entered two-year leases on a pair of vintage 1982 Cessna Citation II 550s.
Akron, Ohio-based Woodbine is the lessor of the aircraft. Sugar Grove, Illinois-based Revv Aviation will operate the jets on behalf of Instajet. Plans call for full-time pilots and a floating fleet model. Members pay a day rate plus all direct costs, including pilots, fuel, taxes, and FBO charges, plus catering and so forth.
Davis estimates those costs will run at about $2,500 per hour. All flying must be done within a 12-hour duty day.
The daily rate will start at $8,000 per day if booked at least 150 days in advance and run to $10,500 for bookings within 10 days. There will be a similar sliding cancelation policy with penalties increasing closer to departure. Final rates have yet to be published. However, the day rates will cover repositioning. There is no taxi time charged, and there are no daily or segment minimums.
The program requires a $100,000 deposit, and funds will be held in escrow until you make a reservation. There is no limit to how many days you can book, although the program is as available. There is a risk as the company will have use of your funds between when you make the reservation and your flight. That’s not unusual in the world of jet cards and memberships but worth noting for a start-up in the current market.
Davis says his goal is to sign about a dozen clients. The target is flyers who can plan their calendar in advance. He cites board meetings and multi-stop, multi-day business trips such as product launches.
“Business aviation has seen a seismic increase in demand, and it feels like the existing models are struggling to cope with the volume while maintaining quality and service. Instajet is committed to making business aviation simple and transparent, and nothing seems simpler than the business model that underpins global car hire,” says Davis.
It’s not clear that this new formula can protect clients when mechanicals or other crimps arise. However, the pricing could be compelling for a traveler who is flying five hours in a single day. Using the numbers Davis provider, five flight hours with estimated direct costs at $2,500 per hour, plus the $8,000 daily rate, would be around $20,500, or $4,100 per hour.
Like other start-ups, the founder has highlighted the current market challenges. Like others, only time will tell if Davis will find success in the market this time.