Shaircraft Solutions CEO James Butler on the Highs and Lows of Private Aviation

“The market has proven resilient and is thriving.”

As a member of Robb Report’s Private Aviation Advisory Board, Shaircraft CEO, James Butler, is often asked to comment on the state of the industry. A decade after a recession collapsed the corporate jet market, Butler tells the publication that the industry has rebounded.

RR: Ten years after the crash, how healthy is the private aviation industry?

“The industry has proven resilient and is thriving. More businesses and individuals have come to view private air travel as a necessity rather than a luxury. The core businesses of whole-aircraft ownership, fractional and charter are firmly established and stable. Forays aimed at reaching a broader demographic through apps, per-seat sales and the like have met with limited success and several stumbles. The recipe for success is the same today as it was 10 years ago—the right amount of flight time on the most appropriate and safe aircraft, at the best possible price.”

RR: What are the biggest strengths?

“Private aviation’s biggest strength is the service itself. Convenience, time savings and peace of mind are all at the heart of the experience. You fly where you want, when you want. No red-eyes, no sitting in airports, no lost luggage. Nor is security a concern when you fly privately. This sense of control provides peace of mind that is priceless.”

RR: What is the weakest link?

“There are pitfalls aplenty out there, especially for those who shop solely based on price. There are few barriers to entry into what I call the Uberization of private air travel—anyone who has access to aircraft operators who are looking to monetize excess capacity can contract with these operators to fly their flights and sell themselves to an unsuspecting public as a private jet ‘program.’ All too often they fail and customers who’ve paid membership fees are left holding the bag.”

The bottom line?

The private jet market is thriving and a growing array of options is making it more affordable (and therefore more accessible) than ever before. However, it’s an industry where mistakes come at a high cost. Anyone considering an investment in private aviation should have an expert sitting on their side of the table, looking out for their safety, making sure they are buying into the best program and best aircraft for their needs, and putting protections in place to best protect them legally and financially.

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