In an interview for Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, Shaircraft Solutions CEO, James Butler, reflects on what led him to the private aviation space, the impact he’s had on the industry, and the many ways in which the Pandemic has changed the future of air travel.
An attorney by trade, Butler’s foray into private aviation began in 1997, when he represented professional golfer Scott Hoch in connection with his purchase of a fractional jet interest. He went on to represent other professional golfers, including Scott Verplank, John Daly, and Bob Tway. “I came to believe,” says Butler, “that the private air travel business was primed for rapid growth, that there was a great opportunity to add value for clients beyond strictly providing legal advice, and that no one really was serving that need.”
By combining aviation and legal expertise, Shaircraft quickly became known as a disrupter in the jet industry. “We’re certainly respectful of the jet providers, but often, in pursuit of our client’s interests, we can be a bit of a thorn in their side,” Butler admits. “And rightfully so. For example, in more than one jet provider’s contract, we found a provision that essentially entitles the provider to change the fundamental terms of the contract without any recourse for our client. Furthermore, many of these contracts don’t provide the customer with meaningful remedies if the provider doesn’t perform its promises. We make it our business to ferret out these often well-camouflaged provisions and negotiate more balanced and fair terms.”
Asked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel, Butler points out that while commercial air travel came to a screeching halt and, more than a year later, is still struggling to regain its footing, the private jet market has grown exponentially. “It’s no surprise; being stuck in a crowded airport terminal and sharing an airplane cabin with hundreds of strangers is not appealing during the best of times, much less during a pandemic,” says Butler. “People who previously may have flown first or business class have been turning to private jet travel to lower their risk of contracting COVID-19. Whether these folks will continue to fly privately when we return to “normal” is yet to be determined. However, as I’ve said many times over the years, once you’ve flown on a private jet, it’s really hard to go back to the Delta counter.”
The full article can be read here on Thrive Global and also here in Authority Magazine. More examples of how Shaircraft has helped business and leisure travelers make smart investments in private air travel can be found on our Success Stories page.