All-you-can-fly airlines, a concept for success?
Over the last few years, a new airline concept has gained popularity: the all-you-can-fly airline. These companies provide a completely different experience for its passengers than the regular airlines. One of these new start-ups is JetEight. Aviation Telegraph interviewed the founder of JetEight, Ruben Portz.
The general idea for this concept is simple: the airline focuses on the high-end business passenger. The passenger pays a monthly fee to become a member of the airline and is then able to book an unlimited amount of flights. This monthly fee will be similar to the sum of several business class return tickets. Once the passenger is a member, a flight can be easily booked through a mobile application. Members will board the aircraft, usually small private aircraft like the King Air, at private terminals.
There are several types of all-you-can-fly airlines, with small differences. One of the most successful airlines to apply this concept is Surf Air in the United States. Founded in 2013, they currently own & operate a fleet of Pilatus PC-12’s. Another variant is US based OneGo. It uses the all-you-can-fly idea, but instead of owning or leasing aircraft, it books tickets on flights of American Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta, Virgin America or JetBlue. While Surf Air owns its own aircraft, JetEight will outsource operations to other operators. This means that JetEight doesn’t have to acquire an Air Operators Certificate, which saves them a lot of time and effort.
According to Portz, the idea for this all-business-class airline originates while he was performing market research for an airline start-up in Slovakia. This model evolved later into an all-you-can-fly model by influences from disruptive subscription based models such as Netflix He is currently validating this research and is contacting potential customers. He states that there could be a membership base of a few thousand customers.
One of the major benefits that these airlines offer is amount of saved time by the passenger. Passengers can book their flights up to 30 minutes before departure at some airlines and arrive only 15 minutes before departure. JetEight for example states that passengers will save one or two hours per round trip between Europe’s business hubs.
Another benefit is the reduction of stress, because of the use of uncongested private terminals. Passengers can show up just before boarding and walk straight through the normal security check. Portz states that JetEight will bring travel experience to a new level.
Despite the benefits, it is unknown whether all the new subscription airlines can survive fierce competition. Beacon, an all-you-can-fly airline in the United States for example, didn’t survive long because of the fierce competition from railroad and other low-cost airlines. In Europe, JetEight will have to differentiate itself from similar airlines as TakeAir, Jet Wise, FlyInstantAir and Surf Air Europe. It is planning to do this by building a unique membership base.
Portz states that this type of airline will face the same problem as regular airlines with the high fuel costs. The fuel costs are at the moment at a low level, but might cause a problem if they rise.