Lawsuits, closures, bankruptcies and lack of transparency show the challenges consumers face
In the two years since I launched Private Jet Card Comparisons, I’ve been surprised by the number of bankruptcies, closures, lawsuits, and lack of transparency in private aviation. In Europe, Wijet liquidated its UK subsidiary while Surf Air closed its entire operation there. Zetta Jet filed for Chapter 11 and then Chapter 7, leaving bills estimated at between $50 million and $100 million. ImagineAir just closed shop without notice. Both JetSmarter and Ascension Air find themselves facing unhappy customers, including lawsuits. Of course, there have been other failures before, including Avantair and Blackjet to name just two fairly recent ones.
How not to lose on your private jet membership
To help you avoid the same pitfalls, here are some tips I put together. While they may not be foolproof, I think they are helpful to keep in mind:
AURA, if it takes off, will be the latest semiprivate airline, selling seats on a scheduled private jet like aircraft and avoiding commercial airport terminals at fares competitive to commercial airlines
ZED Aerospace, a start-up started in March 2016, according to the founder’s LinkedIn profile, will launch AURA, what it is calling America’s first Five Star flight experience, in 2019. The by the seat membership flights will link Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Denver with scheduled flights using Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft reconfigured for just 29 passengers. The aircraft will be operated by Presidential Aviation a leading Part 135 charter operator and management company. AURA joins a growing list of companies attempting to prove there is a market for scheduled alternatives to the commercial airlines that use smaller aircraft and avoid the congestion of large airport terminals.
Surf Air’s website has added, “Now serving 10 cities with more to follow.” But what’s actually coming?
After nine months of minimal growth, including reducing or restructuring staff recently, Surf Air in Europe may finally be ready to spread its wings. Then again, maybe not. From what it looks like somebody has been updating its website with possible routes that may be in the offing. On the home page of Surf Air, a headline reads, “Now serving 10 cities with more to follow.”
Jet Card Membership Programs provide users convenience when they fly privately, but finding the true hourly rate you will be paying often takes a bit of work
You ask your assistant to go to a few private jet card membership websites and check out the hourly rates. She follows your instructions and puts them in a comparison chart for you. That was easy! Then you join. You get your first invoice, and shock, the prices you are paying have nothing to do with the rates on the website. It reminds you of that $29 per day car rental that ended up costing you $79.
What is the real impact of the private jet membership seller’s play to increase shuttle flights?
While JetSmarter didn’t respond to our original request to speak to them before we published our article earlier today about their plans to expand shuttles, we sent it to them after it was posted on Private Jet Card Comparisons and invited them to respond if there was anything incorrect. Below is from Ronn Torossian, Chief Business Officer at JetSmarter Inc.