The Wall Street Journal – Blogs -
Share a Jet Through the Internet
By Robert Frank
July 28, 2009, 11:30 AM ET
Well, the private-jet industry is coming out with something it calls “Share a Jet.” Rather than saving water, the “Share a Jet” business is aimed at getting more people overcome their cost-aversion and PR worries to boarding private jets.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say you want to fly private from New York to Palm Beach. You log on to shareajetexchange.com and plug in your desired route and times and number of fellow passengers.
On the other side of the exchange, private charter companies or jet owners log in and offer shares of flights for sale. The exchange quickly matches up the buyer and seller provided there is a match.
It’s like Orbitz for the Gulfstream set, but instead of selling seats it’s selling a half or whole flight. The exchange’s motto is “Any Jet. Any time. Any place.” (Rest assured, the exchange also includes helicopters).
Ricky Sitomer, the CEO of Blue Star Jets — which owns the exchange — says the service can cut the usual costs of flying private by more than 50%. Buying half of a flight from New York to Palm Beach on a light jet, for instance, could go as low as $4,000, he said. A flight to Europe on a Gulfstream, which can sometimes reach $120,000, are going for $50,000.
Granted, online brokerages for private jets have been tried before. Virgin Charter, for instance, uses its own online tools to connect private jets with fliers, but has yet to take off.
The down economy will certainly help, since even the rich are trying to be frugal. Selling shares online may be just the ticket for the industry’s ailing finances and image problem. And there’s no need to worry about flying with riff-raff, since Mr. Sitomer insists that passengers will be flying with “people of their own socio-economic background.”
Do you think the Share a Jet Exchange will take off?