When Adam Twidell launched his online business jet charter booking system in 2008, his competitors said nobody would book a private jet online. “We’ve undoubtedly proved that’s not the case,” Twidell, founder and CEO of PrivateFly, says. “Our customers demand speed, price and expertise, and they’re Internet savvy.”
PrivateFly was the first private jet booking platform to allow customers to book from beginning to end online – and, more importantly for the supply chain, to be able to quote online and see the booking all the way through. The PrivateFly system allows customers to research a flight, view estimated prices and submit the flight request, while aircraft operators instantly see the request and can confirm the quote, all online. The form’s online platform and apps integrate with a live global network of more than 7,000 accredited charter aircraft, pinpointing the best at the most competitive market price, drawing from a worldwide network of more than 2,700 safety and VIP service-accredited private jet operators.
Twidell reckons that despite launching during the world’s worst recession for decades, his business model has proved to the industry that customers want to book private jets online. “I think we were also in the right place at the right time,” he says. “The recession was a catalyst for huge change within the industry, with more supply than demand in a highly fragmented market. The aircraft operators were more open to adopting an online system to find new charter business, while customers were shopping around, looking for more price transparency.”
PrivateFly currently books 100 flights online per month, up some 220% from last year, itself the result of double-digit growth the previous year. The firm offers multilingual platforms and is seeing increasing use of the PrivateFly app, now accounting for 10% of bookings, and growing.
Europe and the Middle East account for some 65% of total PrivateFly business, with 15% from the U.S. and 10% from Asia.
“At the moment, I see the U.S. market as the biggest opportunity for PrivateFly,” Twidell says. “We’re seeing sales accelerating since we registered the company in the U.S. and launched our booking platform there in January.”
The St. Alban’s, England-based company also offers VIP service and aviation advice from its 24-hour, multilingual flight team – and welcomes telephone calls too.
PrivateFly’s longest nonstop flight so far is London to Singapore (5,946 nm) on a Gulfstream G550 for TAG. The shortest:to Northolt with Hangar8 using a Hawker 800. Various two-week G550, multi-leg journeys around Asia have been completed, but its largest booking to date was via its app for a multi-leg flight for a Saudi family on a BBJ – an excursion costing a cool $500,000.