“This last quarter, the industry saw unprecedented charter demand. We are seeing periods consistently where our fleet is sold out,” says Jonah Adler, chief commercial officer, Jet Edge International. “Even for September – typically a shoulder month – we are seeing high demand so far without business flying fully starting again.”
In June KKR lent Jet Edge $150m to help it keep growing. Last week KKR announced that it was now buying a $40m stake in the company. This money will be used to help grow Jet Edge’s Reserve jet card membership programme. It has sold $100m of Reserve memberships in the past 12 months.
“We’ve successfully executed numerous growth initiatives driven by KKR’s initial financing and are excited to continue to build our platform with this new investment,” said Bill Papariella, CEO of Jet Edge. “We will continue to invest heavily in technology and back-end infrastructure to enhance the customer experience and help us stay ahead of evolving client demands amid rapid membership growth.”
While some other card programmes are pausing sales, Jet Edge is set to add an astonishing 27 super-mid Challengers and large cabin Gulfstream aircraft by the end of December. The aircraft are pre-owned but fully refurbished before being added to the fleet.
“At a time when the private aviation industry is experiencing historically high demand, the Jet Edge team continues to impress us with its innovative solutions to age-old inefficiencies and strong operational execution,” said Dan Pietrzak, partner, KKR.
While Jet Edge is still keen to support its key brokers, the sudden demand has tilted the balance of power from charter brokers to operators. A new app, Instajet, which launched last week aims to shift it even further by linking charter customers and operators directly. Users of the app get instant guaranteed charter quotes.
When they select a flight, Intsajet’s team check that it is possible and send back a standard contract (positioning, standard catering and de-icing are included). Once the customer deposits money into an online escrow account, InstaJet then sends out a fixed bid price that is $1,500 dollars less than it quoted.
Operators receive a priced charter request and simply click to accept or decline. There is no negotiation. If several bid, the winner is either the newest aircraft or an upgrade (such as a super-mid rather than a light jet).
InstaJet is offering a referral programme based on a unique QR code. It also hopes this will allow it grow in a managed way.
“We want to save operators’ time by giving them an oven-ready pre-paid flight without needing to quote or negotiate,” says Nick Davis, its founder and former head of aviation at yacht company Sunseeker. “We want to change charter one flight at a time.”
Jet Edge reports the industry witnessed “unprecedented charter demand” in the past quarter.