Europe-based online private jet booking platform Stratajet today went live in the U.S. market. Its website allows charter customers to search, themselves, for real-time aircraft availability and pricing, and then book flights directly.
The service launched in the U.S. with the backing of 125 North American aircraft operators. Another 123 operators have committed to making their fleets available via the site and these will be added in the coming months. In Europe, 111 operators have so far signed up to offer aircraft through Stratajet.
According to founder Jonny Nicol, Stratajet has recorded 42-percent average month-on-month growth in the number of flights booked by customers in Europe since the service launched there in April. Like other online charter platforms, Stratajet declines to reveal the number of flights booked through its system. The company said that it has generated “several million” charter quotes since launching. More than 4,750 people have registered to use Stratajet.
Nicol told AIN that 37 percent of customers booking flights return to do more business through Stratajet. He also reported that 32 percent of all customers are first-time users of private aviation and that, in many cases, the person flying is booking his or her own flight—as opposed to having this done by an assistant.
Stratajet maintains that traditional brokers are discouraged from seeking flight quote requests from new customers because they need to qualify these customers to avoid wasting operators’ time. Nicol pointed to the example of the owners of UK-based fruit drinks company Innocent, who he said found it almost impossible to book charter flights when they first attempted it. They are now among financial backers for Stratajet, which also include institutional investors, that have raised a total of some $14 million in capital for the start-up.
To recruit U.S. operators for UK-based Stratajet, Nicol earlier this year flew the company’s Piper Chieftain across the Atlantic to tour the U.S., meeting with 225 operators and leading FBOs over the course of 160 days. He said that the company carefully screens operators featured on the site.
Stratajet claims to be able to eliminate fundamental inefficiencies in the charter industry by allowing multiple quotes to be generated automatically, taking account of all cost factors in any given trip. The company’s software also allows partial empty legs to be factored into flight cost calculations, potentially making charter rates more competitive.
“The launch of the platform into the U.S. is a huge step in the direction of further eliminating the industry’s inefficiency and wastage, thus improving the profitability of jet operators, lowering costs for passengers and making private aviation more widely available to the mainstream traveler,” Nicol commented.
Stratajet plans to develop French and German language websites. It also intends to extend the service into the Middle East.