XOJet and Apollo Jets join forces

Alasdair Whyte

XOJET fleetXOJET, the US operator, has launched a new partner network, where selected brokers will sell all of its products, and has chosen Apollo Jets as its first platinum partner.

In the past, brokers have only sold charter flights for XOJET. Apollo Jets will now sell all of the operator’s programmes including preferred access, coast2coast and customised programmes.

Founded by Al Palagonia, Apollo Jets is one of the best known brokers in the US, partly because its high profile customers include sportspeople like basketball player Shaquille O’Neal and other celebrities including film director Spike Lee.

“Apollo Jets is a very successful business and one of our closest partners but this partnership is also because we relate to Al on a personal level,” says Brad Stewart, president, XOJET. “Clearly when we decided to launch this limited programme it had to start with Apollo Jets. They have thousands of customers which complement our own.”

Stewart says that XOJET will look for other platinum partners and will continue to work with other charter brokers. “Other brokers will want to join with XOJET,” says Palagonia. “They will look at this and say: ‘Let’s join the winning team before we get kicked out of the league.”

Apollo Jets will also continue to work with other aircraft operators.  “XOJET has 45 planes. If they had 450 it would not be enough on peak days when 6,000 people want to fly – like the day before Thanksgiving,” says Palagonia. “So we will continue to work with other companies.”  He says that the only other operator that Apollo Jets has such a strong relationship with is Travel Management Company, which operates a fleet of 50 Hawker aircraft.

Stewart adds: “Al’s customer base has requirements from turboprops up to airliners. There are 20,000 aircraft in the US – if you include turboprops, light cabin aircraft, larger cabin aircraft and airliners. XOJET is just targeting the mid-cabin market.”

XOJET has a fleet of 44 aircraft (23 Citations, 12 Challenger 500s and seven Hawker 800XPs) and is growing fast. In the next 12 months Stewart says the fleet will grow to 60 aircraft.

Stewart says XOJET has been working on the partnership programme for over a year. Both companies will have separate sales teams. Customers will get the same price whether they book with Apollo Jets or with XOJET directly.

“Our vision is to consolidate the best and brightest brokers with our existing sales team,” says Stewart.

XOJET will train Apollo Jets sales team to help them understand XOJET’s programmes which include: XOJET Preferred Access, a customisable programme where rates are determined each time; XOJET Elite Access, its fixed priced charter programme, where customers pay $8,500 per hour; XOJET Coast to Coast, where customers get three Trans American flights each year; and XOJET’s customised programmes.

“We have sold more programmes in the last few weeks than in the last five years,” says Palagonia. “No other company offers the flexibility of XOJET’s programmes and they have a two page contract and no need to commit to ownership.”

“We are huge fans of XOJET. In fact we used XOJET to formulate our business plan when we launched,” says Palagonia. “The problem with booking charter historically has been that you would get pot luck. If you booked a mid-size aircraft you could end up with a Lear 35, a Lear 45 or a Citation or anything else that happened to be available. NetJets or FlexJet customers would get on a substandard plane and go: ‘This is why fly fractional.’ But then XOJET came along offering consistency, transparent pricing and no commitment – and a better product.”

Palagonia says that Apollo Jets had been approached by other aircraft operators – including fractionals – to form similar relationships to its one with XOJET, but has always turned them down. “Fractional ownership is like timeshare,” he says, “and anyone who has bought timeshare – as I have – knows it is one of the worst investments you can make.”

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