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Vistajet CEO Thomas Flohr hosted journalists at Farnborough business airport to launch his new mobile app for booking private jets.
The app, called Vistajet Direct, gives members priority booking of one-way and ‘empty leg’ flights.
Bookings are for whole aircraft for sole-use, rather than seat-only, and guarantee aircraft availability. Vistajet owns a fleet of more than 70 aircraft, including Global 6000s and Challenger 350s. Journalists were shown onboard one of Vistajet’s Global 6000s, which feature club-style seating for up to 17, double sofa-bed, full-service galley and range of nearly 7,000 miles – which brings four continents into direct reach from London.
Flohr described private equity firm Rhone Capital’s recent US$200 million investment in Vistajet as “an industry-changing event,” adding that the “golden rule” of business is raising money at a time when you don’t actually need it – “so you have a war chest on your balance sheet.” He said that while Vistajet is not currently looking for acquisitions, “the world of the future is about consolidation”, so the company is ready should the right opportunities appear.
He added: “Rhone Capital invested in a technology platform – this is the most advanced in the industry. Of our 1,000 Vistajet employees, 200 are software developers.”
Flohr said the platform’s strength lies in powerful algorithms that enable notifications based on geo-location and user profiles, real-time fixed pricing and quick booking – and that drive efficient allocation of aircraft. He said that while the industry average for ‘empty leg’ flights – when a private aircraft needs to fly empty to return to home base or be positioned for its next charter – is 40 per cent, Vistajet’s average is “less than 30 per cent.”
He added: “Everybody is obsessed with empty legs, but only one in 20 customers want to book them – they want to fly where and when they want, in a cost-effective way.” The company says profits were up 30 per cent in the first half of 2017, and expects to operate 23,000 flights this year.
Annual membership of Vistajet Direct costs US$10,000.