Time is money. You’ve heard it a million times before, so why are you still getting your PA to book a flight? Private jetting is the way forward, and here Stratajet talks CEO Today through the latest innovations in private travel booking.
The turn of the millennium saw a revolution in commercial air travel as aggregators like Skyscanner and Expedia began to offer travellers the means of searching for their own flights. Internet connectivity has caused a surge in innovation across aviation, prompting a more efficient means of booking. Offering direct access to flights in this manner – rather than customers having to visit a travel agent – has cut out the middle man, driving down the cost of flying and making it easier than ever before for passengers to control of their travel arrangements.
Private jets, in contrast, lag significantly behind. Over recent years, innovation in the private jet industry has taken the form of grander and more luxurious aircraft, while the means of booking them has remained the same. Still governed by a network of brokers, the industry suffers from huge inefficiencies as fliers largely request quotes over the phone. Customers generally rely on phoning a single broker, who tasks individual aircraft operators with manually calculating the cost of each flight. It is a hugely inefficient and time-consuming process that often results in wastage – after all, not all quotes are taken up. This traditional means of booking a jet plagues the industry, preventing it from catching up with its commercial cousin.
The reason for this convoluted method is the staggering complexity of calculating the cost of any flight. 15 sets of fees, each with hundreds of variables, can alter the price by thousands of pounds. And those variables, which include take-off fees, terminal navigation fees, airway charges, taxes and noise surcharges, can be as precise as needing to know the noise levels of the aircraft two miles out from landing, at a certain time of day.
Whereas these variables are all pre-determined for commercial flights, the very nature of private jet travel – in that it offers a bespoke service – brings with it the need to calculate the cost of every potential flight from scratch. The most experienced aircraft operator will take around 20 minutes to return each quote and then there’s the convoluted to-and-fro with your broker if you’re not happy with the prices you receive. What’s more, operators can often be reticent to provide quotes for first-time fliers, since the risk of the flight not being taken up is higher than a regular private jetsetter. The result has been a slowly ageing customer base across private aviation, with the industry struggling to attract new and younger audiences.
Attempting to redefine this old-fashioned means of flying privately is a former pilot, turned computer scientist. Entrepreneur Jonny Nicol set out six years ago with a ‘mission’ to transform the private jet industry into a more accessible means of travel.
After a decade in the military as an officer and pilot, Nicol turned his hand to flying private jets, in turn realising the inefficient nature of the industry. Due to fly a passengerless aircraft back to London – purely for the purpose of repositioning the plane – Nicol stumbled upon the foundations of an idea that would give more travellers the option to fly privately.
Harking back to Nicol’s military days, the phrase ‘mission’ describes the five-years that it took to get the idea off the ground. “The trouble with inventing something,” recalls Nicol, “is that you don’t know what the challenges are and how long it will take to overcome them. It took those five years to get a very complex system of calculations to run at a speed that was commercially viable. On day one I asked myself why this had never been done before. And now it’s obvious!”
After this most arduous of R&D phases, Stratajet is the first platform that gives fliers direct access to the private jet marketplace. Now live, the platform is capable of filtering through all the necessary fees and their variables to return accurate prices of private jets. All the available options can then be booked instantly, removing the inefficient process of liaising with a broker to confirm your travel arrangements.
“We’re inspired,” says Nicol, “by the potential of Stratajet to give control back to the flier. We’re giving travellers the freedom to compare the best prices for private aircraft charter, and book their own jet instantly.”
“Through a perception of pure luxury,” he continues, “the principle purpose of private jet travel has been forgotten. That’s one of efficiency; getting from A to B as quickly as possible. Private jets have the power to shrink the world but only if used correctly. Our technology ensures that travellers are paying the fairest price possible.”
Bringing aircraft to fliers’ fingertips in this manner is already making an impact on the industry, as Stratajet is able to attract a wider audience of travellers to the concept of flying privately. “Private jets,” claims Nicol, “have been inaccessible to the mainstream traveller for too long. And while the average age of customers has been steadily increasing, a third of our customers are younger, first-time private jet fliers, attracted by the immediacy of the technology.”
In Nicol’s own words, “Booking a private jet has never been so simple.”