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01 April 2014

Supply & demand 

For more than two decades, companies have been selling fractional ownerships of private jets. But buying a share in a $40 million aircraft, like a new Gulfstream G450, is expensive, even for the seriously wealthy. Meanwhile, pilots of private jets often spend up to half their working hours flying empty planes back to base after dropping off their passengers.

Now, opportunities are springing up to fill those seats – and at far more affordable prices than in the past. Passengers can book flights on relatively short notice, take their pets along with no hassles, and skip lengthy security checks and annoying limitations on baggage.

The Internet startup Airbnb enables people to rent other people’s spare bedrooms at substantial discounts compared to the cost of a hotel. This same concept can be applied to private-jet travel, using Internet technology to connect travellers to jets that have seats available.

A Monaco-based company, JetPartner, has been launched to provide this service for a price significantly lower than the cost of chartering a private jet. Its website allows users to enter destinations and desired flight times to see if any convenient ‘empty legs’ are available.

The ease of the technology will undoubtedly attract more firms to the business of matching demand for private jets with unused capacity, which is good for both travellers and aircraft owners.