Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Executive jet transatlantic operator seeks new business model

More competition for lucrative transatlantic first-class passengers is imminent with the appearance of a new operator—New York-based Bliss Jet—selling individual seats on high-end business jets.

Bliss Jet describes itself as an indirect air carrier; it will use Gulfstream G450 and G550 aircraft from US charter operators, including White Cloud Charter and Jet Access Aviation, to fly what will initially be a 2X-weekly service between New York La Guardia and London Stansted airports.

The term “indirect air carrier” was coined by the US Department of Transportation, Bliss Jet president and CEO David Rimmer said. Whereas most business jet charters are operated on a single-entity basis, which involves hiring the entire aircraft, Bliss Jet as an indirect air carrier will operate public charter flights whereby it charters the aircraft and can then sell individual seats on it.

The Bliss Jet model differs from the apparently similar “virtual airline” model popular in Scandinavia, in which one company acts as the seller and marketer of flights, with the actual flying being carried out by another company, Rimmer said.

“We have a much stronger say in the process. The role of the direct carrier—the company actually undertaking the flying—under our model is fairly limited to just flying the aircraft.”

Cabin crew will be supplied by the direct air carrier, “but they will be interviewed and briefed by us and we will have a tremendous amount of contact to get them up to the Bliss Jet standard.”

Traditionally, a business jet flight carries one “lead passenger,” with others on board dependent on him or her. “The difference we have at Bliss Jet is that we will have 10 lead passengers and it’s [a case of] refining how you pay appropriate attention to all 10.”

Rimmer aims to price a one-way flight at $11,995—equivalent, he said, to a first-class seat in the cabin of a legacy airline. That compares with the typical $100,000 cost of hiring the entire executive jet.

The G450 and G550 will be offered with a maximum of 10 seats per flight.

The new service will differentiate itself from former all-business class airlines such as Eos, MaxJet and Silverjet, which collapsed at the onset of the financial crisis, by offering a much more personalized service, Rimmer said. This would include the customer’s own choice of food, which would be ordered before the flight.

All the necessary regulatory approvals for the service are in place, Rimmer said, but a start date for the service has yet to be announced.

“We can start in March, but I expect it will be later. The temptation, when you have a great idea, is you want to get to market as soon as possible. We’re just trying to tweak the service aspects and fine-tune our sales organization.”

(Alan Dron - ATWOnline News)

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