Going for Broker: The Rise of On-demand Private Jet Charters

The charter market is still an industry based on phone calls, emails, text messages and relationships.

More savvy flyers are adding a good charter broker to their portfolio of private aviation solutions. The use of brokers for on-demand private jet charters increased by nearly 20% year-over-year, according to Private Jet Card Comparisons, a buyer's guide to private aviation programs. Brokers say they are not surprised. Here's why.

First, as demand surged, jet card providers changed the rules of their programs, adding peak days, longer booking windows and more surcharges, and increasing minimum flight charges and restricting where guaranteed rates were guaranteed. At the same time, production is slow, with a backlog of orders for fractional ownership buyers limiting immediate access in many cases. In the US, new customers with NetJets wait over a year for their airplanes to arrive.

Recent coverage of financial issues with several providers is making users more apprehensive about giving providers big sums of money up-front, on-demand charter brokers say. For example, fractional operator Jet It shut down without notice; Wheels Up has had to deny bankruptcy reports; and AeroVanti is facing multiple lawsuits from customers alleging they paid over $15m for flights never received. However, it's deeper than that.

Kevin Diemar, a former executive with NetJets who founded Miami, Florida-based Unity Jets over a decade ago, says sophisticated customers want more than just a private jet. He says: "When you are in a jet card, you are typically getting a guaranteed category — light jet, midsize jet, super-midsize jet, large cabin jet — and you are getting what aircraft type the provider wants to give you in that category.

"Tall people don't want to spend five hours crouched over. But if you look at the super-midsize category, there are big differences in cabin height and width. Some have flat floors and some have wells.

"Do you want to be able to stand up and socialize? Do you need to talk with coworkers, or will you just sit in your seat the entire time? It can make a big difference in the experience."

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