Once regarded as the preserve of chief executives and movie stars, private jets are now available to a far wider clientele. Meanwhile, operators are seeing these expensive assets put to greater use as planes spend more time flying passengers and less time sitting on the ground or flying empty.
The private aviation sector has undergone enormous changes over the last few years with new providers and new business models challenging the traditional way of booking flights.
New industry players might have introduced online platforms, but with many of these, customers are still required to wait, sometimes for hours, while quotes are obtained manually from a number of operators to finalise their booking. Even then they can’t be sure until well into the booking process of exactly how much they’ll be expected to pay.
But now a pioneering player appears to have finally solved these residual problems, bringing the private aviation industry into the 21st century, and in doing so it has grabbed the attention of savvy travellers who want to book quickly and easily, and get the very best deal when they fly by private jet.
Stratajet optimises private jet door to door. Imagine that you need to be in Zurich at 2.30pm for a meeting. In a matter of seconds, the system will find the most convenient flight at the best price and then tell you exactly what time you need to leave your home or office.
Described as “the world’s most sophisticated price comparison site”, it takes advantage of what are called partial empty legs. Say, for example, you want to fly from Barcelona to Paris. The sophisticated Stratajet technology can identify a plane flying empty from, perhaps, Madrid to London. It will arrange for this plane to take a detour so it can fly you from Barcelona to the French capital, creating efficiencies that save the traveller money and improve the operator’s profitability.
Stratajet was founded by Jonny Nicol, an ex-military officer and pilot, who later flew private jets. “I realised that the system was working in the same way that travel agents used to when you’d book a holiday before the introduction of the internet,” says Mr Nicol, offering another analogy.
“If aviation was like road travel, then today we’d only have buses and limos. What Stratajet does is to convert some of those limos into taxis. So, just as a group can often travel more cheaply and conveniently by taxi than by bus, we’re allowing them to do the same by taking a private jet rather than buying a number of business class seats.”
The sophisticated technology behind Stratajet means that it’s the world’s first real-time online booking platform for customers, with the ability to provide an accurate price and book a jet within two minutes – a process that used to take hours.
Meanwhile for operators, it provides free sales and customer relationship management software that integrates seamlessly and automatically into their booking systems to help them sell more flights and reduce inefficiencies.
Delivered via an app or its website, the Stratajet offering is completely different from anything else available in what is already a fast-moving and innovative sector. Stratajet allows operators to increase their revenue with its online sales platform, while the removal of the manual element drives down costs.
The company’s complex algorithms and search engine technology, which have taken over five years to develop due to the huge number of variables involved, allow customers to simply enter their postcode. The service does all the rest, recommending the best airport for their location.
Stratajet’s databases contain detailed geographical information, including aircraft locations, repositioning costs, drive times, landing fees, airfield charges and opening hours, so it can identify the most cost-effective airfields for a client’s trip and present them with the most convenient options.
The company’s software factors in a staggering number of calculations in order to provide a quote. “For example, it has to consider 15 different elements when producing a price for a customer and just one of these – the landing fee – involves 247 different variables,” says Mr Nicol.
But the mind-boggling amounts of data that are crunched from airports around the world by its complex algorithms are then translated into a very simple and intuitive interface for the client through Stratajet.com or the Stratajet app.
All prices shown are 100 per cent accurate all of the time, so there is no need for customers to seek quotes. And Stratajet is so confident in the reliability of its software that if a customer finds a better price for the same aircraft from another provider, the company will match it.
Stratajet also believes the human touch is essential alongside sophisticated algorithms and its user-friendly app, and so its customer service team is on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the trip is safe, easy and smooth running.
“This is a watershed moment in the history of private aviation,” says Mr Nicol. “From now on people will divide it into ‘pre-Stratajet’ and ‘post-Stratajet’. For business travellers and jet operators alike, this is really a game-changer.”