PrivatAir filed for insolvency on December 5, 2018 – and while its focus was on charter rather than fractional ownership or jet cards, this news still sends a chill through the global private jet market.
JetSmarter also appears to be under attack with several members reportedly taking legal action for alleged non-delivery of services. This comes on top of Zetta Jets and ImagineAir ceasing operations, apparently leaving customers with losses.
In November, Surf Air closed its European operations, and it has been reported that the company potentially owes over $2 million in unpaid taxes in the US.
It is only reasonable, then, to assume that there is more turbulence ahead. Of the 35 operators LTI has examined over the past two weeks, we have been surprised to find that seven have only six (or less) corporate officers and staff, yet they are operating in a service intensive 24/7 global sector with significant operational and financial demands.
Michael Crompton, Founder of LTI – Luxury Travel Intelligence, says: “Given recent events, LTI will be financially stress testing every significant operator in the jet charter, fractional ownership and jet card markets and we hope to produce our findings in March 2019. In the meantime, the advice to customers looking for private jet travel solutions is to seek ‘strength in numbers’ and only consider established major operators, such as Air Partner, Flexjet, Magellan, Netjets and Sentient. You can also minimise your risk by opting for last minute empty leg options, as offered by many established brokers including JetSmarter, Victor, Lunajets and JetSuite. With any transaction you should also look for escrow type options, to protect your cash until your flight is successfully completed.”