UK-based Stratajet launched its charter booking platform and accompanying app on Friday, having spent the past five years to build the software, algorithms and data it needs to perform near-real-time quoting. To do this, the platform links into operators’ own electronic systems and collects an enormous amount of data on everything from airport and airspace charges to runway characteristics, weather and Notams.
Its booking engine, combined with a belief that the industry has been very inefficient—empty legs represent almost 40 percent of all flights in business aviation and aircraft utilization is low—attracted investment from seed funds and venture capitalists, so the company has grown rapidly over the past 15 months. It now has 50 employees, many of whom collect and analyze data and to set up operators on its system.
Stratajet founder Jonny Nicol said the complexity of the problem had been “insane” and that the company almost folded in 2014. The Stratajet system can now trawl 500 operators for availability and prices, and check all the associated airport/airway charges and constraints to give a concrete quote in less than 10 seconds.
Nicol said the company had already had instances of individuals paying for flights using their smartphones via the Stratajet app. “We soft launched last year...and launched Apple Pay a few months ago. Somebody paid £40,000 for a trip with a fingerprint.”
Stratajet started in Europe, gathering data from 2,107 airfields, many of which have far lower fees than the larger airports business aviation often uses. Once the technology was operational, Nicol embarked on a tour of Europe in the company’s Piper Chieftain to meet and vet operators. The platform is now live in 44 countries across Europe, and similar plans are underway to expand into the U.S. market.
Nicol is currently busy working his way around the U.S. between trips back to the UK, and flew the Chieftain over last year. He is in the process of visiting 426 operators in 48 states to introduce them to Stratajet.