Are you tired of long lines at the airport, waiting forever at security to be patted down by some TSA agent ? Have you ever wished you had a private jet to whisk you away from all this? BlackJet is here to help but it’s gonna cost you.
"There’s a national treasure out there of these smaller community airports that are widely underutilized," says BlackJet's founder and CEO Dean Rotchin. "Wealthy people have found this kind of shadow transportation system, private aviation, and we figured, why not bring it to more people?"
In 2007 Rotchin took his own money, along with help from friends and family, and started an airline. Using four thousand planes cross a hundred different operators they built a reservation system and launched the company without having to buy actual jets and hire pilots.
BlackJet quickly caught the eye of the wealthy and successful, including actor and serial investor Ashton Kutcher.
"Ashton is one of my favorite investors," Rotchin told Breakout, "because he’s been a customer of the service and was a customer of the service for two years before he decided to invest."
With stars like Kutcher using the service it's no wonder it comes with a Hollywood price tag --$3,500 for a trip from New York to Los Angeles. If you’re willing to pay, you can skip the lines and enjoy a gourmet meal catered just for you while sipping on unlimited wine and soda. The seats are soft leather and more comfortable than any seat on a standard carrier, and the legroom puts traditional airlines to shame. When you land your car can meet you right on the tarmac.
Scheduling a trip is easy thanks to BlackJet's mobile app. Just a few clicks and your flight is booked. And filling those seats is the key for BlackJet to profit.
"You can make a lot of money when you have enough people on the plane," says Ritchin. "It’s just like the airlines that way. If they’re flying at 85% capacity, well, they might be eking out a little bit of money. In our case, one more person on the plane makes all the difference in the world."
When BlackJet launched the only way in was by invitation, which allowed the company to control who was on their planes. They recently opened to the general public which has taken some of that control away and left customers wondering how the company can assure they are on the plane with someone who respects their privacy, especially if it's a Hollywood starlet or corporate magnate.
"We know a lot about our customers," Rotchin explains. "We collect a lot of information about them. So you can kind of answer that question by saying, 'hey, it’s going to be somebody just like you on the plane.'"
As they grow their customer base, BlackJet is hoping to grow their route map as well. They most recently launched service in and out of Chicago.
"You basically need to get a critical mass of clients in the market before you open it up," Rotchin says, "and it doesn’t happen automatically."
As they expand their offerings BlackJet says their model could catch on, not just with travelers but with major airlines as well.
"I think the airlines, they may not embrace it but they can understand that this whole different system is probably going to be something they can leverage," suggests Rocthin. "So we think that we would be acquired by them. We’ve already been in contact with a couple of airlines."
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