There is no doubt that boutique jet card broker Velocity Jets was the canary in the coal mine when it stopped selling jet cards in July 2021.
The 30-day pause lasted over six months, and after briefly opening up sales again in January 2022, the broker shut them off again.
Before Velocity’s initial sales stoppage, there were signs that demand was outstripping supply.
In June 2021, NetJets shelved its Classic jet card, which had a 10-hour callout and just 30 peak days. It also initiated blackout dates for new joiners of its Elite option.
The week before Velocity’s move, NetJets put its Phenom 300 and Citation XLS jet cards and shares on a waitlist.
That led to a flood of providers halting sales to new customers, including Sentient Jet, Flexjet, Jet Linx, Airshare, Solairus, and Priester, among others.
Earlier this week, Velocity opened sales to new customers again, but like the last time, its CEO and Founder Patrick Harris says the window will be limited.
Demand, he says, is coming from flyers who have been using the bigger players but, in an environment still filled with operational challenges, want the personal touch of dealing directly with the owner.
Some 70% of Private Jet Card Comparisons subscribers say they are open to boutique providers.
The current Velocity Jets jet card offers a 96-hour callout going to 14 days on peak days.
Harris says with availability improving, the new callouts give him a big enough buffer to find aircraft from what he deems are quality operators.
WingX reports charter and fractional flights in the U.S. were 16% below last year’s record levels for the past month.
He says ideal clients are flying from major markets and with flights at least two hours on light and midsize jets and three hours on super midsize and large cabin aircraft.
During the height of demand, Harris says it would take multiple dozens of calls and emails to find a backup aircraft if an operator canceled.
“When you are a small player, every customer counts. I know consumers want fixed hourly rates and guaranteed availability, so having a jet card is important, but it has to be more than words on paper. It needs to be something I know we can deliver,” Harris says.