NetJets, Executive Jet Management and Jets.com are suspending jet card sales. The former are owned by Berkshire Hathaway, with NetJets focused on sales of private jet fractional shares and EJM offering aircraft management, marketing those airplanes for charters when their owners aren’t flying in them.
NetJets, Executive Jet Management and Jets.com have all suspended sales of their jet card and … [+]
“Effective immediately, all requests for the NetJets Card Program will be placed on a waitlist. This temporary pause on the sale of all cards allows us to prioritize the exceptional experiences we promise to deliver,” NetJets’ president Patrick Gallagher announced in an email to customers on Monday.
For NetJets, the total shutdown is the culmination of several braking initiatives that began in June. First, it pulled its Classic cards, which offered flights with just 10 hours’ notice. It also took the Cessna Citation Latitude out of its card program while hiking hourly rates for its Elite jet card product. In July, it stopped sales across all of its product lines – shares, leases and cards – for the Embraer Phenom 300 and Citation XLS, popular entry-level jets.
Gallagher wrote, “Despite taking previous actions to slow our sales process, we have continued to see the interest in NetJets accelerate.”
NetJets gains inventory for its card program when owners of shares sell them back at the end of their five-year contracts. Clearly, more owners are renewing for five more years. It uses the EJM charter fleet to fulfill the flying needs of share owners and jet card clients when demand exceeds what it can handle on its fleet. Customers who buy into the NetJets programs want to fly on NetJets-owned and operated aircraft since they are paying a premium to do so in many cases. EJM’s decision to pull its Ascend membership program is without doubt linked to NetJets’ needs.
Jets.com is what I would describe as a midsize broker, although it bought a charter operator earlier this year, trying to secure supply for its customers in a market that is seeing record demand.
A spokesperson for Jets says, “As you know, the industry has become very turbulent, and in order to continue to offer the level of service we pride ourselves in, this has become a necessity.
She adds, the sales pause, which goes into effect Sept. 1, will “allow ourselves a chance to run reviews on our pricing, terms, and guaranteed availability.”
In July, Florida-based boutique broker Velocity Jets suspended jet card sales. CEO and owner Patrick Harris says the company is continuing to keep its program on hiatus. “We’re still going to hold off. It’s a volatile market. We’ll see what happens this Fall. I have a core group of jet card clients who have been with me for an average of 10 years. Right now, that’s my focus.”
According to WingX, as of last week, private aviation flights this month were running 17% ahead of 2019’s pre-pandemic levels. Charter operators flew 30% more sectors in August compared to the same period two years ago. Fractional operators were up 25%. Supply chain and labor issues, the same as those impacting the overall economy, are creating a challenging operating environment.
Most jet cards, like the ones suspending sales, offer customers contracted rates that are guaranteed on short notice. Over recent weeks, several providers increased contracted pricing, which is often guaranteed for at least 12 months. At the beginning of the month, jet card prices were only 1.8% higher than the end of 2019, with hourly rates for turboprops, midsize, super-midsize, large cabin, and ultra-long-haul aircraft rates down. Only prices for very light jets and light jets were higher.
While it’s not sure any other providers – there are over 50 – will halt jet card sales, expect increases in hourly rates, longer lead times to book flights, more peak days, higher peak day surcharges, and longer daily minimum charges.
I’m Editor-in-Chief of DG Amazing Experiences, a weekly e-newsletter for private jet owners and Private Jet Card Comparisons, a buyer’s guide comparing over 250 jet card programs from major players like Flexjet, Jet Linx, NetJets, Sentient Jet, Wheels Up, VistaJet, and XO to newcomers like FlyExclusive and boutique brokers. You’ll also find performance profiles of popular private jets, from turboprops King Air 350, Pilatus PC-12 and HondaJet to the Phenom 300, Challenger 300 and 350, Gulfstream G450, G550, G650, G700, Bombardier’s popular Global Express family, the iconic Learjet and S-76 helicopter used by both Queen Elizabeth and Donald Trump. There’s a free guide explaining various options and even a guide for first-timers and specifically what you need to know before chartering. And before you fly, find out what’s an FBO. You’ll also find a Deal Book, cataloging M&A activity and launches by key players. I’ve spent my working career in travel and luxury media, for 14 years at Travel Agent magazine, where I began as a reporter, then covered the airline industry as Aviation Editor and ended up rising to Group Publisher. In 2000 I started Elite Traveler, a consumer lifestyle magazine distributed globally aboard private jets, where I was President and Editor-in-Chief until 2014. In 2007, I co-authored of “The Sky’s the Limit: Marketing to the New Jet Set.” In 2014 I wrote “23 Ways to Create More Sales Opportunities 25 Minutes,” and in 2016 I co-authored “Secrets of Selling to the Super Rich.” Verb named me as one of the Top 25 Digital Luxury Experts to follow. For more private aviation and news on jet cards, private aviation memberships, and fractional ownership, visit Private Jet Card Comparisons’ news updates.