Don't wait around for commercial airline services to relaunch. For those who can afford it, there are always private jets around. And flight pooling for those who don't want a jet all to themselves. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Want to fly “economy” on a chartered jet service?

JetClass is offering just that with a “flight pooling” service launched last week, aimed at the relatively well-off who cannot wait for normal airline flights to start. But since they are sharing the flight with others, they won’t have to pay the usual hefty fees private jet services entail.

“We received some interesting subscribers - flights closest to reaching actualisation range from London to Dubai (when permissible), and Doha to Cairo,” said Fahim Jalili, Chief Business Officer at the flight “brokerage” firm. “Other requests [are for] Melbourne to Singapore, Milan to Moscow and Dubai to Frankfurt and even Dubai to Beirut.

“We look forward to executing our first FlightPooling flight as it means we achieved the goal we set out to accomplish - helping people take an urgent flight to/from the chosen route.”

Each of these flights will have a minimum of six passengers.

JetClass insists it will be flying passengers “at cost”. “Whilst no profit being generated, as a commercial concern we must also ensure we do not take a financial hit either, especially at this critical juncture for any aviation-related organization,” he added.

No pre-approvals needed

JetClass does not have confirmed pre-approvals for any of the routes where it foresees demand. “The nature of the FlightPooling is such that it requires a certain levels of subscribers to be reached before we commence to the next phase of making the flight happen,” Jalili said.

“We do not have pre-approvals as the nature of private aviation is different to the world of mass commercial travel where pre-contracted slots are utilised. In private aviation, permissions are requested and granted on a flight-by-flight basis.

“Permissions are granted relatively quickly in the vast majority of aviation markets. Most airports, civil aviation authorities and operators have all learnt to keep up with the fast pace of travel today and ensure they cater for clientele who range from business travellers and governments, to emergency travel and even VIP holidaymakers.”

In full steam

When airlines ceased flying from February and March, once the full scale of the CVID-19 pandemic became apparent, private jet services turned out to be the alternative for those who could afford it. With flight pooling, operators are targeting a user base slightly below on the wealth chain.

What of the rates on a JetClass flight? “We have kept options and numbers as open as possible with a minimum level of six people being set to consider approaching subscribers,” the official added. “This is because we are keeping elements like social distancing in mind, in addition to costs, and this can be a fine balancing act.

“One must understand that more people onboard sharing the flight (hence FlightPooling), the less the cost per passenger. At the same we are conscious of not opting for too small an aircraft and consequently facing distancing issues.

“Some passengers are happy to travel on a smaller aircraft at a higher cost, whereas there are those for whom the final fare can be the deciding factor on whether they can or will travel.”

Permissions are granted relatively quickly in the vast majority of aviation markets

- Fahim Jalali of JetClass
Operating procedures
JetClass does not directly own the aircraft that its passengers fly on. In the last five years, the firm operated more than 1,000 charter flights and more than 300 shuttle flights in Europe. "Demand for the charter segment has seldom waned, and indeed both before COVID and to-date we are experiencing demand from wide quarters for private aviation travel," said Fahim Jalili.

"We are happy to have achieved minimum flight standards in light of COVID-19 from all our operators, including non-negotiable elements around temperature-checked cabin crew and all boarding passengers, and sanitized aircraft."