With our smartphones, we can easily order food via Postmates or Seamless, rent a room through Airbnb or Booking Now, or hail a car using Uber or Lyft. Now, a service called Victor is applying the same model to the private jet sector, letting anyone order a plane as easily as they would a car or takeout.
Started more than three years ago in the U.K., Victor has successfully achieved 300 percent year-on-year growth in the European private jet market. And it’s now officially bringing its service stateside, the largest market for private jets. Although Victor has always serviced the U.S., the entry into the market means putting support staff on the ground, from East to West Coast. It’s using $8 million it secured in funding to initiate the rollout.
If you use Uber, then you’ll know how to use Victor’s iOS app (there are no immediate plans for an Android version). It uses a similar user interface and navigation as most mobile on-demand booking apps. Punch in the two cities you’d like to fly between, and Victor displays all the available aircrafts at the departure airport in real-time, including the type and age of the plane, the number of seats, and pricing. With a credit card on file (one with a high credit limit, naturally), the user can quickly request a charter, and, if accepted, a confirmation is given in minutes. Afterward, passenger information can be added to the flight manifesto, all through the app. The app and service is free to use, and all fees are factored into the pricing. (The service also has a Web-based component.)
With the U.S. launch, Victor users have access to 7,000 planes at 40,000 airports around the world. They also get 24/7 customer support, and Victor stands behind any issues that may arise during the booking.
Of course, unlike Uber, most of us won’t be chartering private jets anytime soon – it remains a luxury service. However, what’s important to note, as Victor CEO and founder Clive Jackson tells us, is that the service offers transparency to what is an “old-world economy.” Traditionally, to charter a jet, you would call several brokers – middlemen, essentially – and get price quotes. This process not only takes time, but you never know what the real price is.
Just as Uber disrupted the car service industry, Victor is looking to do the same with private jets.
You may be asking, why would the rich care about how much a $30,000 charter cost? When it comes to private jets, there is that image of celebrities and their lavish lifestyles. But Jackson says the days of wasteful spending are gone: Today’s private jet users do care about their spending because, after all, they didn’t get to where they are by throwing money away.
But Jackson also points out that private jets not only cater to the elite. Companies that need to quickly send a team of personnel at the last minute for an important meeting could end up saving money in the long run by chartering a jet, as oppose to flying on airliners. Jackson showed us that some private jet charters can be as low as $15,000 or less – still rich for most of us, but cost-effective in a business scenario. But that type of information is only possible due to transparency, and it’s not something brokers might steer clients toward. Because in business, as the adage goes, time is money, Jackson says Victor provides the tools to deliver on that.