BEAT THE CROWDS WITH YOUR OWN JET
18 February 2016, Written by Nick Nichols
TIRED of waiting at the airport for that commercial jet service sending you to your next interstate meeting?
That's what one Gold Coast company is hoping for as it launches the next wave in air travel to the business sector, fractional jet ownership.
YOURJET Australia was established in 2015 by two aviation industry veterans, Jason Hazell and Paul Robbie, with a view to tapping into the corporate travel sector following the success of the model in the US, Asia and Europe.
Hazell, an aeronautical engineer with 30 years' experience, says the move is typically aimed at businesses looking to maximise productivity of key personnel, particularly for transport into regional centres that are poorly covered by the major airlines.
"People are increasingly frustrated with commercial air travel but left with few choices," Hazell says.
"YOURJET brings the efficiencies and benefits of private jet travel to people that don't need or can't justify the cost of an entire aircraft."
The company, which launched the service at the Singapore Air Show this week, is offering a quarter share of an Embraer Phenom 300 light jet.
The cost is a cool $2.5 million for each share, with YOURJET forecasting the Australian market has the capacity to support up to 20 aircrafts under this model.
"We've been working on this for the past 14 months," says Robbie, a former senior project manager with Qantas.
The partners currently operate an aviation consultancy and aeronautical design company, AIR360, and say the opportunity to create a fractional jet ownership model stems from discussions with existing clients.
"The business model is not new," says Robbie, who says it has been tweaked to align Australian market conditions.
"For a start we have greatly increased aircraft availability and given our clients the opportunity to access any other aircraft in the fleet if theirs is being used," he says
Hazell says access to private jet terminals is where the time savings are most acute.
"All the owner has to do is arrive at the private jet terminal and get on their way," he says.
"We've been talking to businesses that can't afford that kind of waste and are looking for a flexible, affordable option to move key staff between cities across Australia."
Under the arrangement, YOURJET has a specific home-base for each aircraft and supplies all necessary support, including pilots, maintenance and safety upgrades as part of an ongoing management package.
Robbie says depreciation benefits also provide an added benefit to owners, who can roll over to a new aircraft in three years through a guaranteed buyback arrangement.
"We've spoken to a lot of people who can't afford outlaying $10 million for a plane," says Robbie.
"If that cost can be shared across four people it can make sense to a business. We are basically facilitating four people coming together, and sharing the benefits of us managing the aircraft and crew to fly the aircraft."
The Embraer Phenom 300 has capacity for eight passengers with range enough to fly into Queenstown in New Zealand or Fiji from the east coast. South-east Asia is easily reached with a refuelling stop at Darwin.
Robbie says the biggest market rests in regional routes, which often require multiple connections to access commercially. He says the downturn in the mining sector has actually shaped up as an opportunity for YOURJET.
"There have been some indications from our contacts that the mining downturn is driving a lot of change," he says.
"They still have that requirement to travel, but it just needs to be cost effective and this might lead to more sales in the resources sector for us.
"Because it's such an innovative product, there has been a lot of industry interest in it. The people we have been talking to are quite keen for us to start."
Author: Nick Nichols