“Stratajet does not sell luxury. We sell time,” remarks CEO and founder Jonny Nicol, who is currently travelling across the US in a vintage airplane, pitching Stratajet to the American market after successfully launching in over 40 countries.
The rise of disrupting lifestyle services - Uber, Airbnb and Hello Alfred to name but a few – backs up the idea that ease and efficiency are becoming a more valued concept than client exclusivity, and it is within these realms that websites and apps such as Stratajet are now available, providing an effortless flying experience using algorithms, rather than an agent, to organise flights in real time. In this way, each chartering experience can be completely unique and devised at the touch of a button.
“The private aviation industry has been shrinking for about a decade and if we don’t do anything then it will die completely. We’ve got to start to engage new customers and bring new blood into it.” It is for this reason, whilst working as a freelance corporate air pilot, Nicol saw an opportunity to take advantage of the vast number of vacant jets flying through the skies.
Nicol cites a journey flying an empty private jet from Nice to London as the inspiration for starting Stratajet. He saw a fully booked British Airways flight leaving for the same route, “It’s occurred to me that I could fly to London, drop off a few of the passengers from business class, and it wouldn’t cost anymore than me flying anyway.” Nicol then dove into almost five years of research and development, trying to perfect the website’s ‘empty leg algorithm’, a unique technology that matches potential clients with existing private jet routes.
With Nicol arguing that up to 40% of private flights are empty, he sees Stratajet as an efficient method for the market to cut through the complex world of aircraft brokerage, “We automate the quoting structure. In private aviation every single flight is traditionally hand crafted. Our app makes it more efficient and brings down the prices.” Nicol admits the aviation market hasn’t welcomed this new technology with open arms, but insists that in order to grow innovation must be embraced, “There’s no question that people go online. People much prefer it.”
Looking at Stratajet’s success in such a short period of time, one must ask: can this seamless technology be applied to the superyacht world? Nicol recognises there are fundamental differences between the two industries, “When people take private jets, it’s very much a tool of getting from A to B as quickly as possible, whereas with yachting it’s the opposite, it’s about the journey rather than the destination.”
Debating this topic, Nic Imrie, aviation consultant and business development manager for Stratajet will be an expert panelist at The Superyacht Owner’s Summit, a cutting-edge series of talks on luxury asset acquisition, focusing on the three themes of air, land and sea. The event, held from 4 - 6 May in London will constitute an executive briefing on the procurement and management of private jets, marina berths and superyachts.
Will the next decade see a similar platform emerge in the world of superyachts? As an industry that values personal exchanges and client communication, will these ever be replaced by an automated algorithm? Watch this space.
To find out more about The Superyacht Owner’s Summit visit www.superyachtownerssummit.com