May 23, 2023

Triumph Over Turbulence

The volatility of the private aviation market poses a risk to both passengers and providers, but your customer experience need not be turbulent with proper vetting of a private jet partner. By selecting a private jet operator with familiarity navigating the highs and lows of the market, you can rest assured your investment will not be affected by economic downturns, fluctuating demand or more global disruptions in supply chain or labor markets.

At Jet Linx, our industry-unique model has been perfected over nearly 25 years through careful investment, steady growth and a dedication to safety that truly sets us apart. With strong national infrastructure, local service, guaranteed availability, guaranteed rates and guaranteed highest level of safety – the Jet Linx flight experience cannot be surpassed.

Understanding Current Market Uncertainty

The private aviation industry saw record-breaking demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, leading to dramatic shortages of pilots and planes, with many operators choosing to pause Jet Card sales to meet demand and ensure private jet availability. A surge of first-time fliers flooded the market in late 2020 and 2021, but as the pandemic has waned, many of these new customers are trickling back to commercial airlines – others are simply being priced out of the market. External factors such as sagging stock and bond markets, inflation, rising interest rates and threat of recession have also cooled the sky-high demand for private jets.

In North America, private jet flights have fallen 7.7% between April 2022 and April 2023 (data from ARGUS). The charter market has witnessed the largest decrease in flight activity, with flights dropping by 23% compared to 2022, placing upward pressure on some private jet rates. Another major factor is pre-owned aircraft inventory has doubled in the last six months as newcomers have chosen to sell off their aircraft and leave the segment. These developments are no bellwether for alarm, but rather a chance for the industry to find equilibrium after a period of rather unsustainable growth.

With strong national infrastructure, local service, guaranteed availability, guaranteed rates and guaranteed highest level of safety – the Jet Linx private jet flight experience cannot be surpassed.

Another challenge facing the market is bankruptcies among operators, brokers and other industry actors. Private jet companies of various sizes and with differing models have filed for bankruptcy in recent years, which has created uncertainty for their clients and impacted their ability to provide consistent and reliable service. Creating further uncertainty are mergers and acquisitions that sometimes follow these bankruptcies. In recent years, there has been a trend of consolidation in the private jet market, with larger players acquiring smaller companies. This trend has created doubt for some private jet consumers, as they may be unsure of how the acquisition will impact the service they receive or if their contracts will be honored.

Most operators require a significant deposit in order to enter a Jet Card Membership program or to gain access to a fractionally-owned aircraft. With market turmoil and uncertainty, it’s no surprise that consumers have cooled on these purchases, wondering whether their investment will provide a sound return. Even some of the larger, well-known providers have struggled to stay afloat and offer consistent service, so choosing the right provider is more important than ever. However, the uncertainty surrounding many companies in private aviation need not be universal.

The Importance of a Safe and Stable Private Jet Operator

Business and personal travelers that use private aviation depend on consistent service and on-demand access to aircraft. One of the most important aspects of any type of private jet service comes with the ability to fly anywhere quickly and safely. Financial troubles and poorly-organized businesses will consistently fail to provide service, and flight cancellations can be caused by numerous issues such as poor maintenance of aircraft, lack of crew, disorganized flight operations, or unchecked safety issues. Maintaining a safe operation requires diligence and a well-organized infrastructure, and some operators don’t have the resources or investment to provide that to clients.

Preparing a private jet for takeoff requires a team of professionals working closely together – from pilots to safety managers to crewing coordinators and even accountants to handle accounts payable. Companies facing turnover and financial instability can succumb to a cascade of problems including shrinking workforces, prompting cancelled flights and poor safety assurance that leave the client with a very meager flight experience. Private jet operators struggling to maintain efficiency will cut costs and sometimes cut corners – jeopardizing the safety and security of their crew and passengers.

Whether flying private for personal or business travel, safety should always come first and it always translates into a better flight experience. Not every provider can commit to investing in safety at a high level, and if an organization cannot afford to be safe, they likely cannot afford to maintain a stable operation. You need a private aviation partner with a strong Safety Management System, reliable maintenance program, and well-trained pilots and mechanics. Offering these items to clients requires a large infrastructure that many local, regional, and even some national providers simply cannot support.

How to Vet a Private Jet Provider for Stability, Safety, and Continued Service

When searching for a reliable private jet operator, pay attention to third-party safety ratings from independent organizations such as ARGUS, Wyvern or IS-BAO. Any operator with high marks from these auditors will have a proven maintenance program, pilot training and safety record. Each of those audits provide baseline indicators for stability and safety, and all far above minimum FAA requirements. Going further, you can ask about a company’s Safety Management System, review their safety policies and examine how they responded to safety incidents in the past.

In terms of financial health, it’s important to understand a private jet operator’s business model and how they manage their fleet. Some operators own their aircraft and others manage their fleet, with both models bringing benefits and challenges. Owning assets like private jets brings high costs for acquiring, maintaining and staffing, not to mention depreciation and insurance. Often, an owned fleet’s cost will be passed on to the customer. An asset-heavy business model does not lend as much flexibility as a model depending on a managed fleet of aircraft.

Once you understand how an organization’s model works, you must ask how your investment or deposit will be used. Is this sum going toward operational costs or will it be kept separate in an account and be used when you book a trip? A potential customer would want to make sure their deposit is being used for their time in the air, not on maintenance or any other company expenditures. Consider what fees are included in the contract – think of deicing, repositioning, landing and hangar fees – all costs that can add up quickly. Last but not least – is your deposit refundable or are you locked into multi-year terms?

Jet Linx stands as the only private jet operator in the world with all three elite safety audit ratings – IS-BAO Stage 3, ARGUS Platinum Elite, and WYVERN Wingman PRO.

When in doubt, search for a private jet operator that offers flexibility when it comes to payments and deposits. Locked-in rates for flight hours and tiered Membership levels can provide needed flexibility when external factors lead to changes in your flight needs. Better yet, inquire whether flight funds expire or if they can be used without expiration or other penalty. With so many different models, payment options and operating costs, you want to look for transparency in the sales process. The more information readily offered, the better for your investment.

Consider these other questions when searching for a private aviation solution:

  • How much notice is required when booking a trip?
  • When is peak travel? Is there a blackout period?
  • Can you upgrade or downgrade without penalties?
  • Are taxes built into flight costs?
  • Does my deposit ever expire?
  • How many aircraft can one Member use at a time?
  • What is the primary service area?
  • What additional fees are charged to the customer?

Jet Linx Case Study: Stability and Reliability Since 1999

Sometimes determining the reliability and stability of a private jet operator is as simple as looking at when they were founded. Established in 1999 in Omaha, Nebraska, Jet Linx has navigated through multiple economic downturns and other turbulent times such as the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 – all while maintaining steady growth through thoughtful mergers and acquisitions, careful program adjustments and the creation of dedicated private terminals in more than 20 locations nationwide.

After earning a Part 135 operating certificate in 2003 and later navigating the 2008 economic downturn, national expansion as Your Personal Jet Company began in 2009 with a Base Partner model, developing roots and teaming with stake holders at new locations in Indianapolis and Dallas. From 2010 to 2016, 11 new Base locations with luxury private terminals were opened. From 2018 to present, Jet Linx opened Base locations in Chicago, Austin, New York, Miami and Boca Raton. All 21 Base locations offer luxurious private terminals where Personal Flight Concierge, local Base leadership, and professional flight teams deliver Five-Star, world-class service.

In establishing numerous Base locations around the country, Jet Linx has proven the ability to expand strategically through mergers and acquisitions by pinpointing operators that align with culture, values, and commitment to safety. Since 2016, Jet Linx has acquired Southern Jet in Boca Raton, Florida; Meridian Aircraft Management & Charter business in Teterboro, New Jersey; ProJet Aviation in Washington D.C.; Flight Concepts in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Elliott Aviation’s Aircraft Management & Charter business in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The transaction with Meridian Aircraft Management and Charter in 2020 added significant heavy aircraft to the Jet Linx fleet, making the Company one of the largest private Aircraft Management companies in the tri-state region, while the acquisition of Southern Jet in 2022 cemented the Company’s foothold in one of private aviation’s busiest markets of South Florida.

Jet Linx is your personal private jet company with over 20 private, luxury terminals at airports nationwide, including the Jet Linx New York terminal at Teterboro Airport.

While expanding geographically, Jet Linx has also added products and services to ensure maximum value for current clients, such as the flight-sharing OpenSeat Exchange program in 2019, a part of the Jet Linx Mobile App – a comprehensive client-only App intended to allow Aircraft Owners and Jet Card Members to book flights, access benefits and manage their services from the palm of their hand. In 2021, the Joint Ownership program and the Complete Aircraft Transaction (CAT) program were announced, both aimed at providing more flexible ownership and management lifecycle solutions for Aircraft Owners. Jet Linx Aircraft Management clients can see how their asset performs in real-time through the Jet Linx Owner Portal, available via desktop and mobile app that provides transparency and ease of access for clients.

Even as Jet Linx continued to create and sell new products and services, the Company kept a careful eye on its Jet Card program and made thoughtful changes to meet the surge in demand brought on by the pandemic. For example, Jet Linx offered the limited-time Affiliate Jet Card during the pandemic to ensure safe travel for those who needed to keep moving. As the demand for private aviation hours soared to never-before-seen levels in late 2020, then followed a careful calculation to pause all Jet Card sales in order to preserve fleet availability and satisfactorily serve all existing Jet Linx clientele. After optimizing the fleet to comfortably operate in an unpredictable marketplace during 2020 and 2021, sales of Jet Cards resumed with a tiered model for Executive Jet Cards and new terms for the business-focused Enterprise Jet Card. Jet Linx executives consistently meet and review terms and agreements to ensure the product aligns with changing market conditions, with the values that steer the Company, and with the service expectations of valued Members and Owners.

Long-tenured senior leadership at Jet Linx also provides unparalleled stability and strength, with decades of combined experience in private aviation rarely seen in such a dynamic industry. Jamie Walker, President and CEO at Jet Linx since 2007, has served for 20 years and under his leadership, Jet Linx has grown from a dozen total team members to over 585 (a 1,850% increase), and from eight pilots to more than 265 (a 3,212% increase).

Other top executives at the Company also boast more than two decades of service at Jet Linx each, including Jason Vanis, Senior Vice President of Operations; Jay Vidlak, Senior Vice President of Aircraft Acquisition; Michael Kopp, Vice President and Director of Operations; and Tony Boatwright, Director of Quality, Aircraft Maintenance. With a team of seasoned aviation veterans, Jet Linx provides critical leadership to navigate difficult markets and provide unique solutions – always with the clients’ best interests in mind.

Beyond reliability, Jet Linx has created value-added benefits for clients such as the Elevated Lifestyle (EL) client benefits program, first introduced in 2014 and now including dozens of partners in travel, health and wellness, fashion, and much more. The EL program was designed to enhance the Jet Linx flight experience with new offers and partners added regularly, all in commitment to enhancing the client experience. In 2020, the Jet Linx EL Preferred Hotel Program was created, a distinguished portfolio of more than 80 properties nationwide and around the globe, offering complimentary booking assistance and exclusive amenities to Jet Linx Members and Aircraft Owners, with new properties added regularly.

The Jet Linx Elevated Lifestyle Preferred Hotel Program provides Jet Card Members and Aircraft Owners with unparalleled access to the world’s finest hotels along with their private jet flight.

As a first-of-its-kind partnership in private aviation, in 2019 Jet Linx and Forbes Travel Guide established proprietary training and service standards to ensure local Jet Linx teams can offer the same Five-Star service expected at the world’s finest hotels, spas, and restaurants. All Jet Linx team members are trained to consistently embrace and uphold these standards of service excellence, including members of accounting, sales, human resources, flight coordination, flight crews, and more.

At Jet Linx, our foundational operating principal is safety. Jet Linx stands as the only private jet operator in the world with all three elite safety audit ratings – IS-BAO Stage 3, ARGUS Platinum Elite, and WYVERN Wingman PRO – separating our fleet from all others when it comes to client safety and flight experience. Jet Linx also holds the distinction as the only private operator to cease retail operations for an all-day, all-team Safety Summit each year, where more than 500 team members nationwide gather to focus on improving safety. The Summit will take place for the seventh consecutive year in 2023. Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, no private jet operator invests more into its Safety Management System, and this is why we stand as leaders when it comes to safety in the private aviation industry.

Jet Linx offers a client-first approach built on a foundation of safety, Five-Star service, and deeply shared values. This cultural framework has led to nearly 25 years of sustained Company growth and reliable, consistent and elevated service for our clients. By continuing to improve and implement higher and higher standards of excellence, our organization has risen above the tide and will continue to find solutions that benefit our customers.

Trade up to Jet Linx. Contact us today to learn more about our proven private aviation solutions.

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