Two famous pilots introduce free bizav discount program

Aviation International News » March 2004
March 16, 2007, 2:49 PM

A discount program for products and services for business aviation operators got off the ground quietly late last year. Called Jet Fleet International (JFI), the program was founded by two well known aviators–airshow and test pilot Bob Hoover and Gene Cernan, commander of the Apollo 17 mission and the last man to walk on the moon.

By obtaining an aggregate demand through a large membership base and negotiating with vendors on behalf of its members, JFI sells products and services to business jet owners at discounted prices. JFI’s target goal is to have at least 2,000 aircraft in the fleet. As of January 16, there were slightly more than 100 members. In late January, JFI mailed about 3,000 applications, which should result in enrollment “increasing rapidly,” said a spokesman.

Membership into JFI is free of charge upon acceptance of an application form. JFI members receive an Alliance Platinum Card, a credit card co-branded with Avcard, a leading provider of aviation products and services. Avcard has more than 30,000 cardholders worldwide, and is accepted at more than 6,000 locations, said the JFI spokesman. The card can be used to charge fuel, maintenance, charter service, catering, flight training and other services. According to JFI, “By using the card for all flight-related purchases, jet owners can keep close tabs on their expenses and on the savings they make as members of JFI.”

Save up to ‘$50,000 annually’
The company’s current discount-provider partners include CAE SimuFlite, Avcard, Bizjet, Shell Aviation, Teledyne Controls, Pegasus Travel, Breitling, Mercury Air Centers, Globalstar, Jeppesen and Wyvern Consulting. JFI said alliances are pending with firms offering aircraft upset training, satellite communications, electronic flight bags, FLIR systems, portable defibrillators, in-flight medical emergency assistance, engine-management systems and engine maintenance. “JFI discounts could save a typical corporate flight department more than $50,000 annually,” claims the company.

Some actual typical savings, according to JFI, are up to $5,600 per event for simulator training (depending on aircraft), up to 10 percent for weather and flight-planning services, 5- to 10 percent on safety audits and up to 25 percent on noise-cancellation headsets. There are also “various” discounts for airline travel.
Discounts on fuel purchases are one of the most important breaks pilots look for. JFI said it can save between 10 cents and 70 cents per gallon in the U.S. and between 20 cents and $1.40 per gallon internationally.

In addition to discount pricing for certain products and services, JFI also offers so-called Mach dividends. This is a rewards program where members accrue points when they purchase particular goods and services. For example, each pilot who completes simulator training through SimuFlite earns for his flight department 500 or 1,000 Mach points, depending on the type of aircraft training. The Mach dividend points are worth $1 each and can be used to purchase JFI services or specialty aviation products, such as electronic flight bags, satcom telephones, defibrillators, enhanced vision systems, cabin displays or safety training.

“We want absolutely to supply top-of-the-line services and products and do so more than competitively,” JFI co-founder Cernan said. He added that the company pays “particular attention” to products and services that promote safety, which he relates to “personally as a pilot and astronaut.”

The company makes money by keeping a “small fraction” of the negotiated savings (to cover operating costs and marketing expenses) and passing the remainder to its members. “The actual amount of what JFI keeps differs, depending on the contract with a particular supplier and the type of aircraft and the services rendered,” said JFI’s spokesman.

“I figured it would be well received from end users,” Cernan said. “I was a little surprised at first that the suppliers would be so enthusiastic, but they are because a partnership with JFI means more customers get steered in their direction.”

JFI plans to exhibit at the upcoming European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in May and the NBAA Convention in October. For more information on JFI, including an application form, visit www.jetfleetinternational.com. 

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