TapJets launching hail-a-jet app
As on operator of 10 business jets, Eugene Kesselman, CEO of TapJets, found it frustrating to have aircraft sitting at airports doing nothing whilst they waited to fly passengers back home. He looked at data and saw it was not unusual for aircraft to be parked for several days.
The problem annoyed him so much that now he is launching a new app that he hopes will solve this problem.
TapJet wants owners and operators to let it sell charter flights on aircraft that are parked away from home bases. Kesselman says aircraft can be more productive, avoid unnecessary downtime and increase revenue.
“The biggest problem with building the Uber of aviation is that it’s easy to sell a flight to New York, but it’s hard to keep an aircraft in New York not making money,” says Kesselman. “So we went out and we spent about a year and a half doing data analysis and we came up with proprietary software that allows us to bid for flights before our plane ever gets there. So the aircraft is utilised to the maximum extent possible whilst it’s on the ground in the other location in the other location.”
For operators the app works by finding the first charter. Once the charter is confirmed, the app then matches any charter requests that the aircraft can perform whilst waiting to fly back.
If the charter is not a return flight, the app will make a return flight available to other potential clients.
The world’s first hail-a-jet app
Charter passengers do not care about how much aircraft fly, but Kesselman hopes to attract them by offering the easiest to use website.
Rather than searching for flights based on airports, users plugin the zip code of where they want to be picked up from, as well a zip code of their destination. The app then selects the most convenient airports and books the whole journey for them. This includes ground transportation from Uber, Lyft or similar services.
Kesselman says that the whole door-to-door booking process can be completed in under 30 seconds. To do this, TapJet’s infrastructure integrates with ground transportation companies, allowing the whole process to be booked automatically.
“We are the only company in the world right now that when you go into the app or website, you can complete the entire booking and an aircraft is dispatched. No quotes, no brokers, nothing in-between. You get an itinerary with the FBO that you need to go to.”
The company is also launching what it calls a ‘name-your-own-price’ section of the app. Kesselman says this works in a similar way to eBay, where a reserve price is set by the operator, and anybody can bid a price for the flight, with the person bidding the most winning the flight.
The app has been in stealth mode for the last four months. Kesselman says that it has generated over 400 revenue hours on 280 flights. The user base has grown to 1,000 people, largely through social media and recommendations.
TapJets used $600,000 in seed capital to launch the app. This mainly came from TapJet’s team and their friends. It is now considering using crowdfunding.
The company plans to come out of stealth mode in late November. Kesselman says the company will launch first with charter bases in Texas, Florida, New York and Los Angeles. TapJets is aiming to be able to cover all of North America, the Caribbean and South America by the end of March 2017. Europe could come online in the third quarter of 2017.