Planet 9 celebrates third anniversary


Van Nuys-based charter operator and aircraft management company Planet 9 celebrated its third anniversary on June 22nd. The company also added a new Global Express BD-700 (N9103J), a managed aircraft, to its fleet of 17.

With a second Gulfstream GIV-SP coming online later this month, it will have added five managed, charter aircraft during the first half of 2021.

“It has been a very interesting year, full of operational challenges, but the global pandemic gave us the chance to shine and demonstrate that when time matters – business aviation can deliver,” said co-founder and director of business development, Matt Walter.

Planet 9 retained all 75 team members during the pandemic.

“The majority have been with us from the outset, so turning three is quite a milestone,” Walter added. “We performed countless repatriation flights; flew medical equipment/PPE and, in a race against the clock, just before the US border closed in the first lockdown. We delivered a mother-to-be to her surrogate as the birth date was brought forward. That was an especially rewarding flight.”

Walter and his co-founder, James Seagrim, said the company’s success was driven by growth in its aircraft management business these past 24 months. “Owners have come to us when they haven’t had such a good experience before, or, because of the pandemic, they’re flying less and want to put their aircraft up for charter,” said Seagrim.

Partnerships built along its journey have also benefited the business. Among them is the management and staff at its Van Nuys Airport headquarters and FBO partner Castle and Cooke Aviation.

Back to 10% of prepandemic levels

Planet 9 has seen its business return to within 10% of pre-pandemic levels.  US, Caribbean travel is especially strong, it said. The Bahamas and Mexico have been the biggest hotspots – as popular summer destinations as well as serving as convenient gateways for Europeans.

“With France and Spain opening up to US travellers without requiring quarantine on arrival, we expect good demand from US to Europe. Now we’re hoping other countries will loosen their entry requirements for those who’ve been fully vaccinated,” said Walter.

Walter said it’s film industry clientele. “Film studios are travelling again to film new productions in Europe. There is a desire to fly actors and crew safely and securely on optimum itineraries,” he added.

By the five-year mark, Walter said Planet 9 would continue to keep delivering the missions it has done in its first three years. Walter told Corporate Jet Investor: “We believe that we are a premium operator of these ultra-long-range aircraft. And with the evolution of new aircraft – whether it is the Falcon 8X, 10X or the Bombardier Global 7500 – we’re going to go after these aircraft that were built to globetrot because we built this company specially to operate high utilisation and international operations.”