You too can feel like Sergey Brin, Larry Ellison, or even James Bond — flying around the world in a private jet.
Fresh Jets launched its apps today that connect corporate travelers with seats on private jets.
“What was once considered Neiman Marcus experience has quickly become a Walmart experience,” CEO and cofounder Timmy Wozniak told VentureBeat. “But for a small and growing percentage of people, flying is actually improving on private aircraft. However, there is no centralized distribution system for private jet charter companies to sell flights, leading to a non-existent place for customers to search and find flights easily”
Wozniak said 1/3 of flights on private jets are flown empty. Fresh Jets aggregates schedule and pricing information from private jet charter companies and matches available flight inventory to passengers’ needs.
The company licenses its software to jet owners and charter operators who can use it to sell available inventory, sort of like what Uber did for black cars or Hotel Tonight for hotel rooms. While there is a consumer-facing app, membership to Fresh Jets is free and it does not make money from the travelers. It is a business-to-business play.
“Our platform manages the supply-side and demand-side,” Wozniak told VentureBeat. “We enable jet owners and charter operators to offer discounted ‘empty leg’ flights on routes worldwide and match their available inventory to the flight needs of corporate travelers and corporations through pre-arranged partnerships with corporate travel management (CTM) companies.”
Wozniak said this approach benefits the owners and operators, who can reach new customers, make better use of their fleets, and make more money. Travelers don’t have to deal with crowds, endless security lines, wait times and delays, cramped seats, “asinine” luggage policies, and “measly snacks.”
Passengers can set frequently traveled destinations, receive push notifications about availability, and create a customized dashboard for viewing itineraries and preferences. The company claims to offer flights at a 50 percent discount, which is still expensive compared to commercial flights.
According to Fresh Jets, there are 19,258 registered business jets around the world, more than 5,000 private airports (as compared to 550 commercial aviation airports in the U.S.), and more than 10,000 new business jets are expected to be delivered in the next 10 years.
Fresh Jets competitors Surf Air and Blackjet both have steep membership fees. Surf Air costs $1,650 a month for an “all-you-can-fly” membership. Blackjet charges $2,500 for membership dues, in addition to high price tags for each flight. Both are designed for frequent business travelers, and Blackjet’s target market is executives earning $200,000 a year or more.
These three companies have all hit on a basic, fundamental fact — flying commercial sucks these days, and people are willing to pay more for a more pleasant alternative, one that doesn’t involve emptying the contents of your bags, getting hit in the ankles by kiddie suitcases, and subsisting on a bag of chips for a six hour flight.
And in this case, there is a gold mine of empty seats in private airplanes to tap into.
Fresh Jets is based in Denver, Colo.