Rankings of the leading fractional aircraft and charter operators, showing the largest players in each of these private aviation sectors. Both charter and fractional grew significantly in 2021, as people flocked to private aviation to avoid crowded commercial airports and flights during the pandemic.
Wheels Up, one of the largest private aviation companies is buying international aviation services group Air Partner. Both companies offer memberships or jet cards, which provide access to private aircraft at fixed hourly rates. Both are also among the few private aviation companies that are publicly listed.
Locally-focused private aviation company Jet Linx has announced the limited resumption of its Executive jet card sales. New card sales were temporarily suspended in late 2021 to ensure Jet Linx maintained guaranteed services to its jet card members nationwide during the spike in peak travel over the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays. Commencing January 1st, sales of new jet cards will be limited and subject to a waitlist at each Jet Linx private terminal location based upon the capacity of Jet Linx's exclusive closed fleet of private jet aircraft and the status of Membership Tier priority.
Air Partner, the global aviation services group, has introduced auto-enrolment for all its private jet and group charter clients into a Carbon Offsetting scheme. This includes all its jet card clients.
The whole of the private aviation industry is facing record demand for flights. This demand is driving up prices and several large jet card providers are even pausing new card sales.
Just a few weeks ago NetJets announced it was pausing jet card sales on its light jets. It has now extended this pause to all sales of jet cards across the whole fleet.
The newly public Wheels Up (NYSE:UP) recently announced results for the second quarter, which ended June 30, 2021. The highlights show revenue increased 113% year-over-year to $285.6 million, live flight legs increased 146% year-over-year to 18,234 and active members grew 47% year-over-year to 10,515 in total.
NetJets says its owners are traveling more than ever and that “flight volume is at a record high.” At the same time, it has “exhausted the production capacity of some OEM partners”, so it is stopping sales of new jet cards on the Citation XLS and Phenom 300 – the smallest planes in its fleet.
Air Partner plc has reported strong growth in its JetCard product, driven by US activity. The company says bookings, members and customer deposits are up globally as travel restrictions ease.
Jet Card holders may fly on aircraft certified under either (FAA) part 135 charter or part 91k fractional regulations. The aviation services company ARGUS released numbers for the largest part 135 charter operators and the largest fractional aircraft operators. Here’s a discussion of the largest card providers.
Jet card providers NetJets and Flexjet have both expressed interest in the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet. Flexjet placed an order for 20 of the aircraft back in 2015 and NetJets recently obtained purchase rights for 20 planes.
Sentient Jet, the inventor of jet cards, achieved 60% year over year growth and ended 2020 with $450 million in jet card sales. As with most other private aviation companies, Sentient saw a large influx of new customers who want to travel but are keen to avoid commercial aviation during the pandemic. In 2020 Sentient Jet saw 2/3 of its jet card purchases come from new clients compared to only 1/3 pre-COVID.
During 2020, the global business aviation company VistaJet saw an increase of 29% in new subscription memberships year-on-year. This is VistaJet’s equivalent of a jet card product offering fixed hourly rates.
The 2021 Super Bowl sees two superstars face each other who are both signed to endorse private aviation companies. Patrick Mahomes, quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs is partnered with Airshare and Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has teamed with Wheels Up.
Private aviation firm Wheels Up is going public via a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp. The transaction gives Wheels Up an enterprise value of $2.1 billion. Once the transaction is completed, the company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "UP".
Wheels Up has just acquired Mountain Aviation, which has the largest and growing Part 135-operated Citation X fleet in the United States, with bases in Denver, Teterboro, and Southern California.
Under the CARES Act there is no 7.5% federal excise taxes (FET) on jet cards and jet charter flights purchased before Dec. 31, 2020. This means you can potentially pay for a jet card in 2020 and travel FET free in 2021 and beyond. This article includes some of the leading companies who are offering FET free jet cards for future travel.
Private aviation magazine Business Jet Traveller conducts an annual reader survey that they call “Readers Choice”. In 2020 they had close to 2,000 respondents who gave their ratings on charter and jet card providers and membership clubs, with enough data to rank 11 of the largest providers.
Qatar Executive recently introduced its exclusive Diamond Agreement, a pre-purchase, fixed-hourly rate jet card program which provides access to Qatar’s fleet of state-of-the-art long-range and ultra-long-range private jets. The large private jet operator, Qatar Executive is part of Qatar Airways serving individuals, businesses, corporations and governments. Its planes fly to more than 400 airports around the world, both in rural and urban centers. The Diamond Agreement was specifically designed to simplify private jet travel for Qatar Executive customers.
In direct response to the COVID-19 outbreak, PrivateFly launches a jet card program to address the surge of new clients turning from commercial airline travel to private aviation. This fixed hourly rate, guaranteed availability jet card is designed for frequent flyers who, in the ‘new normal’, are turning to private jets for safer travel, more control over personal budgets, and ultimately minimizing potential exposure to the deadly virus. Card holders can also fly in the USA through a partnership with sister company Sentient Jet.
On announcing its half year results, UK public company Air Partner Plc (London Stock Exchange: AIR) said the number of new JetCards sold is up 50% on the prior period. They expect the increased interest to continue due to the safer environment offered by private aviation. In particular the company experienced exceptional levels of trading from COVID-19 related work in their Group Charter and Freight divisions.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) authorized the Treasury Department to provide up to $32 billion to compensate aviation industry workers and preserve jobs. This included both commercial and private aviation companies. Here’s a look at the largest private jet and jet card companies that received some of this funding.
As the world continues to battle the challenges of COVID-19, recent data proves that many businesses and individuals are turning to private aviation for a safer way to fly. The bottom line: private aviation and the use of jet cards are on the rise again, especially compared to commercial flights.
It is true, numbers are up since the onset of the pandemic, but the industry still has a way to go to fully recover. FlightAware CEO, Daniel Baker stated, “On Saturday, June 20, Business Aviation traffic surpassed 2019 numbers for the first time since the initial decline with 2.5% more flights than the same day last year. Weekday recovery still has ground to make up but continues to trend upward.”
Membership and jet card provider Magellan Jets has launched two new pay-as-you-go membership programs. As the world rethinks how to travel safely in the age of COVID-19, Magellan Jets is expanding its product portfolio. The company says that while it was once prudent to fly on commercial airlines for economic reasons, it’s now more prudent to invest in safer and more private travel options.
One of the largest jet card companies, Sentient Jet, is seeing new and existing members turn to private aviation as a trusted resource as the COVID-19 lockdown unwinds. They ascribe this to travelers seeking out the safety and convenience of flying private and jet cards, when compared to commercial options.