The Changing Landscape

The landscape of the private jet card industry changes almost as often as folks change shoes these days…
Woman Looking out Windows of FBO Airport

The landscape of the private jet card industry changes almost as often as folks change shoes these days it seems. With a market that is brisk due to the various economic and environmental factors, jet card brands are keen to capitalize on the market while it is hot because the brands that have been around know all too well that business can be here today, yet gone tomorrow. This pattern of ups and downs has become normal for the industry with demand constantly shifting due to political stances, oil prices, and the economy.

As we stand right now as of this writing, the driver in the market is security and safety, without question. But even within the bigger picture of being safe, there are elements that need to be considered by any consumer. Questions like, “What procedures are in place to ensure my safety?” to “What happens if a pilot or passenger doesn’t feel well?” These are all of course valid points in the current times and yes, the program you choose should have an answer readily at hand, and one that you can have verified and validated as well.

In addition to the response to safety protocols, some of the major players in the industry have taken to a separate venture veiled as being consumer-friendly. By now, it is widely known that Uncle Sam has decided to waive the 7.5% Federal Excise Tax charged to private jet program customers, but beyond that, there seems to be a race to the bottom price-wise. For the consumer, this can appear advantageous, but it may also signal some troubling times for the company.

All too often in this business, brands who are cash-strapped and in rapid need of cash will engage in a lower hourly rate or a special promotion that seems out of the ordinary. Recent examples in the industry are out there, with some seemingly well-funded brands going to market with new low market-setting pricing, only to file bankruptcy shortly thereafter. The race to the bottom seems like a life preserver at best, and in recent years, these strategies have often screamed: “Buyer beware!”

Second, no one has seen this type of market before as none of us have faced this type of political or economic or medical turmoil before. For some companies, the “panic” button has been pressed, where brands have virtually blown up their established strategies and business plans to chase whatever dollar they can get from the market. This creates instability, that instability creates inefficiencies, and on the surface, it screams insecurity.

For those still wondering, I believe it’s fair to say that “insecurity” and “instability” are not terms you want associated with your $250,000 private jet card deposit. Instead, look for a program that has not engaged in a price war, or that hasn’t called an emergency management meeting to abandon their strategies. Yes, it may mean a few dollars more in spend, but that cost is worth the peace of mind in the end for the well-qualified private flyer. The brand that avoids the price war, or that has stuck to its roots, is one that typically will possess a confident and experienced leadership team (who don’t employ a panic button), and a company who has secure enough finances that they don’t need to make that cash grab to stay afloat.

Finding the right jet card solution can be a tricky river to navigate. Even the supposed “Big 3” of the industry, the companies who were supposed to have it all and be so secure in their position, have all drastically changed their business models in the past 2-3 months. They may call this “adapting,” but the savvy consumer will notice that many of these moves exposed flaws in their core business that got put under a spotlight during this downturn.

Other brands that aren’t regarded as part of the Big 3, which by the way is a distinction with respect to daily departures, are holding their ground throughout and staying committed to their mission, their program values, and their pricing. With the changing landscape at hand, it behooves the buyer to go beyond those top 2 or 3 names to find a provider that checks off all of the appropriate boxes of safety, security, experience, and stability.

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