Responding to what they perceived as a lack of organization and efficiency in the air charter booking process, flight dispatcher Janet Fenner and entrepreneur Marshall “Sonny” Belew recently founded Skydini.com, a Web site that lets consumers search for and purchase available charter flights online in minutes instead of hours.
The first phase of the Web site is being launched today at the Skydini booth (No. 5414), with the goal of getting charter operators to sign up and list their available aircraft in the company’s database. Fenner told NBAA Convention News that the consumer Web site is slated to launch sometime in December, once enough operators have signed up. She said the company’s goal is to get half of all U.S. charter operators on the site with “aircraft strategically placed all over the country.”
Fenner said that most online charter sites collect limited consumer information and generate e-mails to all relevant charter operators, whether or not they actually have aircraft available to make the trip. The dispatchers, then, must sift through all of this information manually and decide whether to accept the job, and then follow up with telephone calls, e-mails and faxes to obtain the remaining required information. Skydini, Fenner said, will instead show consumers only those operators and aircraft that are actually available at the designated time and place.
“Unlike other online booking services, Skydini.com instantly connects private air charter providers and their customers, bringing the current 24-hour booking process down to just three to five minutes,” Belew said.
Operators will be asked to complete a profile of their company and their aircraft, which Skydini management will evaluate prior to accepting the operator into the pool. The beta Web site that Fenner demonstrated to NBAA Convention News included a section where an operator could indicate whether it had successfully completed a “maintenance audit” by Wyvern or ARG/US, but there was no space to enter any details about the results of the audit. When asked what criteria Skydini will use to accept or reject an operator, Belew said the company will evaluate the operator’s safety record but would not specify how this would be accomplished.
“There will be a standard, with checks and balances in place,” he said. On the consumer side, passengers will be asked to enter more information up-front than they would be on other charter search Web sites, but no more information than they would have to provide to complete the various security checks required for any charter flight, Belew said.
The search results page will include the name and certificate number of each available charter operator, with details and photographs of the aircraft.
“Our goal is not to remove the relationship between the charter company and the customer, but to simplify the task-oriented items,” Belew said.
Skydini is one of six diverse companies owned by the Lebanon, Tenn.-based Belew Group. One of these, Redijet, is awaiting FAA approval to begin air charter operations, according to the company’s Web site. Belew told NBAA Convention News that he applied for a Part 135 certificate more than a year ago and is also in the process of negotiating with airport and city officials to open a new FBO with avionics and interiors shops in the Nashville area. He said he would like to have three or four Beechcraft or Beechjet aircraft on the certificate but does not intend to be a major player in the air taxi market.
“There won’t be any relationship to Skydini other than we’ll be a client,” he said of Redijet. Belew said his target market for Skydini is broad.