An online flight charter company has launched an app for splitting private jet fares, something it claims will help stranded travellers during the current health crisis.
Consider it car pooling, with wings and higher fuel costs.
JetClass the company behind he app says the platform was created in response to the "suspension, or vast reductions in operations by the world's major airlines in the face of COVID-19."
Under the roar of one's chartered Bombardier, it might be hard to tell if starting a website for chartering private jets during an economic crisis is tone deaf. However, the company insists that the FlightPooling app provides a service that the world needs right now.
Talking to Austrian trade magazine TIP, CEO Fahim Jalali said the coronavirus pandemic was the perfect time to draw on his team's experience and resources democratise the private jet.
"We have heard the heartbreaking stories from people around the whole world who simply want to get home. We know that, thanks to our unique position, we are able to offer a practical solution – so we decided to launch 'FlightPooling' it was that simple."
Registering one's travel plans on the website, it allows you to find and contact fellow travellers to split flight costs and book a plane with as little as 48 hours notice. Flights can be viable with as few as six passengers. While the largest customer base appears to be in Europe the company says it will consider flights anywhere.
Barcelona to Berlin – formerly a route that was once served by budget airlines for as little as €50 ($90) – fetches € 2,140 ($3830) via FlightPooling. It's no small investment.
For those hoping to get the full private jet experience, we are disappointed to report that caviar and champagne has been pulled. The company regrets that due to current circumstances, they cannot provide catering and "encourage passengers to bring their own snacks, pre-packaged food and a bottle of water." That's just how we roll.
In order to follow CAA guidelines aircraft are sterilised between flights and passengers and crew will be temperature checked at screening. JetClass also says that flight staff are provided with PPE and the planes will only be chartered between private airports, which "diminishes the risk of being amongst heavy crowds."
The travel agency which also offers private charter flights says the 'flight pooling' option will open up this travel option to those who would not ordinarily have been able to take it. They list the benefits of the service as allowing passengers to "save money", "save time" and "be kinder to the environment."
One assumes filling the remaining five seats in your Gulfstream G6 is the 'every little helps' model of emissions management. As opposed to chartering six extra flights.
Don't expect to be using FlightPooling to take a holiday any time soon. While charter planes allow a greater flexibility of travel plans, many destinations have embargoed international flights for all but "essential travel."
Last month a private jet belonging to a group of holidaymakers was refused arrival at Marseilles airport in France. The airport police reported stopping a party of seven men aged between 40 and 50 and three women in their twenties who had arrived on a luxury jet on their way to a villa in Cannes. The party's travel was deemed to be "non essential" and were refused entry to the country.