Share-a-Jet program takes off in NY

Blue Star Jets’ program lets customers split costs of private jet travel with other travelers headed to the same destination

December 10, 2010 3:33 PM

By Adrianne Pasquarelli

For those New Yorkers who want to fly by private jet but don’t want to pay full price, there’s another option. Manhattan-based charter company Blue Star Jets’ Share-a-Jet program, which is taking off.

Under the program, two parties with the same origin and destination are matched together; each receives four or five seats on the jet, and costs are split 50-50. For example, a trip to Florida from New York would cost around $10,000 for a family of four, rather than $20,000.

“The economy was bad, and we were looking for other ways for people to fly private and make it more affordable for them,” said Ricky Sitomer, chief executive of Blue Star. He noted that travel trends are always the same, with similar types of clients traveling to Aspen for the holidays or to Florida for a weekend. “People are flying with the same type of people and they’re getting to their destination for half the price but still have the luxury [of flying private],” he said.

Demand is up 50% over last December, when the program launched, Mr. Sitomer said. He now books between 25 and 30 trips each week, and only expects the trend to intensify.

But not all experts agree. Though the private jet industry has been consistently growing, despite the recession, some say the prospect of sharing a plane with strangers might outweigh the financial benefits.

“The primary driver for flying private jets is time and efficiency,” said Doug Gollan, president of Elite Traveler Magazine. “The idea of sharing a ride with some other people means you still have the efficiency of not having to go through commercial airports, but you’re also working to someone else’s time schedule or a compromised time schedule.”

Mr. Gollan expects shared jets to be a very niche area in the larger chartered-plane arena. He also noted that the industry is still running strong, and was never down more than 20% during the worst of the recession. “Now it’s back up to where it was two years ago and growing,” he said. “If you have money, you don’t want to sit 40 minutes in a security line at the airport and then have someone take a naked picture of you while all your toiletries are rifled through.”


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