A new booking service is about to change how we book private jets, and how owners sell seats.
The Airbnb of Private Jets
It’s typically bad form to describe a business as the “Airbnb of -” but that model demonstrates exactly what Imperium Jets does for both consumers and private jet owners. Leveraging the “sharing economy for air travel” Imperium helps those who own private aircraft get greater utilization of their assets while providing an opportunity for consumers to benefit.
Like other aspects of the sharing economy, rides sold on Imperium or on their consumer-facing site, ByTheSeat.com allow travelers to book an entire private aircraft or just a single seat. However, rates are not set by the brand but by the provider. An owner of a private aircraft can be as competitive or uncompetitive as they like.
Not New, But Possibly Better
Selling repositioning flights and empty legs is not a new concept. XO has been doing this for years, other competitors are in the space and have had mixed success over the years. In fact, there have been 17 different attempts, according to Imperium Jets Founder and CEO, Lidor Revah to sell in that space. As a former Israeli Special Forces member, he “fell in love with the challenge of empty legs” starting the company in 2019.
Brokers are not new to the space of private jet utilization either. But dealing with brokers is a lot of back and forth in a veiled environment that doesn’t allow for quick transactions or efficiency.
So why will it work for Imperium when it hasn’t worked (at least with any runaway success) for 17 others? That’s where the company adds some great innovation.
The Killer Application
What makes Imperium different is that they have an easily implemented API that will allow travel sellers and OTAs to market seats on a private jet for a route. For example, let’s say you’re on your favorite search engine looking for a single one-way from Chicago to New York, you may find a drop-down that allows you to select economy, premium economy, business, first, or private. You may find flights marketed within the results, especially for more than one traveler, as an alternative approach.
“From our experience in this field, [travel companies] are excited for this offering… they don’t need to have a back and forth, just load from this site.” – Lidor Revah
What Imperium Is and Isn’t
Imperium has an IATA number but is not a travel agency, so they don’t compete with other travel agencies. They are not a travel operator so they don’t compete with airlines or other charter travel operators. They are, “focused on being a facilitator.” The company wants to empower companies to sell seats that otherwise wouldn’t be able to. The platform even encourages small operators to establish regular flights and earn from the aircraft’s downtime.
Imperium has signed a number of agreements that will help aircraft owners increase utilization while still offering something unique and beneficial to consumers.
The Israeli company considers itself a tech firm rather than a travel company. They attract operators because they make the service free for operators to use and it’s a “success-based fee.”
US and Europe Are The Top Markets
With Asia expanding their private jet market and the need to utilize jets in between committed plans, one might think Asia would be a focus. However, it’s the United States and then Europe that leads the way. The largest growth market for the business is the US by far. Regulation barriers are lower, the market is very educated in the offering and familiar with private aviation,
Growth also looks good for the market generally. According to industry experts, around 7,200 private aircraft will be delivered in the next 8 years, most of these to the US market.
The mature European market that utilizes an air sector similarly unified to that of the US makes it a comfortable second place for ease, access, and frequency. However, air travel regulations outside of the US are less conducive to their business model.
The empty-leg, positioning flights, and open-seat flights are not a new market, and utilizing this space is a problem many have tried to solve. If Imperium is able to sell these offerings to the general public, however, through Online Travel Agency channels it could be a game changer for both operators and consumers alike. That could make Imperium special and a lasting option in the market.
What do you think? Do you think Imperium can be successful in this space?