In an exclusive contribution to luxury lifestyle magazine, JetSet, Shaircraft CEO, James Butler, offers expert insight into the complexity of private jet contracts and urges investors to do their homework before signing. In particular, Butler explains how the introduction of the jet card model and the increasing power of the internet and e-commerce have significantly reduced the barriers to entry into the private jet market by eliminating the requirement that jet providers own and operate aircraft and otherwise build substantial infrastructure for their businesses —relying instead on third party operators and marketing through glossy internet sites. Although expanding access to private jets via the internet may have surface appeal, many private flyers have been lulled into a false sense of security-- assuming more and more risk. "[C]ustomers, used to merely checking 'terms of service' boxes on web sites instead of reading through long documents, [have] blithely succumbed to the allure of purchasing expensive private flights with no more care than they order… an Uber," says Butler. Indeed, in one case, with the click of a button, customers unknowingly authorized a jet provider to change the terms of their agreement at any time and for any reason.
Citing safety and risk management generally as paramount concerns, Butler has long-advised that clients look behind the fancy marketing and celebrity endorsements, and be leary of 'boilerplate' contracts. Due diligence is critical to making sure that you are making the right choice. Questions to consider: Who is really operating the aircraft and what is their safety record? What type of aircraft is it and what is its vintage? What safety equipment does it have? What is the pilot’s experience flying this particular aircraft? What is your recourse if the jet provider doesn’t live up to its promises?
Bottom Line? Butler reminds us, "[W]hile there are fewer and fewer barriers to entry, [private aviation] remains a difficult business to operate safely and profitably. A single mistake can cost you dearly."
The full article can be read here and in the Spring 2020 print issue of JetSet.