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Jet It CEO on travel trends amid the pandemic

Glenn Gonzales, Jet It CEO and Co-Founder, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the state of the private aviation industry, affordable private flights, and the global energy crisis.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

JARED BLIKRE: Welcome back to "Yahoo Finance Live." I'm Jared Blikre. Private jet usage has taken off during the pandemic for at least one company. Jet It is now the first private aviation company that's licensed to operate in three separate geographic regions. And we have the CEO, co-founder of Jet It with us, Glenn Gonzales. Glenn, thank you for joining us.

And I just want you to give us an overview not only of your company but also the state of the industry. I know some of your competitors had some troubles early on. You seem to have been doing pretty well. And just tell us your company's story here.

GLENN GONZALES: Yeah. Well, Jared, we started three years ago in 2018, just prior to the pandemic. We closed the end of last year with nine airplanes. We're currently operating 15 aircraft. We have six more coming from Honda aircraft company. We're very excited about that.

The industry as a whole has really taken on the mantle of there's an opportunity for us all here to succeed. The broader marketplace is following the premise that we started with at Jet It. Everyone is looking for more autonomy and efficiency in how they travel.

And what we do is help people skip past the delays and the stops. You can travel with who you want. And when you're doing that at $1,600 an hour, those companies that are providing creativity and certainty to the broader marketplace are the ones that are succeeding.

We've found our company-- our revenues are up 5X over what they were last year. And we don't see an end in sight as it stands right now.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOUROS: All right, so $1,600 an hour, definitely for the wealthy. But I know that there's been such great demand, and these folks are so awash with money right now, that some companies like yours are having trouble finding planes and finding pilots. Has that been the case for you at all?

GLENN GONZALES: It's definitely a struggle. And it's a struggle for the entire industry. In our particular case, we believe that our business model is well-suited for everyone, not just the wealthy. at $1,600 an hour, when you have the access to the entire airplane, that's $400 a seat per hour. So the flight from New York to DC, the first class flights are going to be the same price.

In addition to that, your time is so valuable. So if you're traveling to somewhere where the airlines have stopped their normal service, if you need to go see a loved one or if you need to close a business deal, there's really no way to compete with the service that we're offering.

You take that a step further, and you talk about it in the broader sense, the entire industry as a whole, yes, there are challenges finding flight crew. But by offering the opportunity to fly brand new airplanes, to compensate our crew better, we have a crew concierge that exclusively takes care of our crew to make sure that they're happy, to provide a higher quality of life for them, we have not found a struggle as of yet to grow our workforce.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, Glenn, I've got to ask you about the global energy crisis, as it may be related as well. We've seen fuel prices, at least jet fuel prices, surge 64% year to date. And I know your customers or your clients are somewhat wealthy. Maybe you can just pass those costs onto them. Correct me if I'm wrong. But have you faced situations where you literally cannot find the jet fuel that is needed to fuel your planes?

GLENN GONZALES: There was a spell there over the summer where fuel shortages were a significant challenge. We have not experienced that since that point in time. In our case, it's a great hedge for our share owners, those individuals who are buying a piece of our airplanes. The $1,600 an hour does not change as the fuel prices change. We can, however, transfer that cost onto our charter customers, those individuals who are not willing to buy a share.

So it works well in our favor, in that we have inventory to sell additional shares into our program. But we also can transfer that cost. So we're a little bit insulated from fuel prices fluctuating aggressively. And our share owners are definitely protected from the prices going up.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOUROS: Glenn, where do you stand in terms of electrifying your fleet? I know lots of private jet companies are looking to do that and looking to do it relatively quickly. How much of your fleet right now is electrified?

GLENN GONZALES: We don't have any electric aircraft presently. But we have made a substantial order for aircraft with By Aerospace and the E-Flier 800. We believe that what we offer presently in the Hondajet is by far the most fuel-efficient aircraft in the marketplace. But fuel prices, it's a variable cost that can fluctuate. And even though our business model is innovative, we also want to make sure that we can control those costs with the electrification.

In addition to that though, we focused on fuel efficiency with the Hondajet. But if we can neutralize our emissions in total by utilizing the E-Flier 800 and the electric aircraft, when those come about and they're certified, we expect that that's also important to us as an organization.

JARED BLIKRE: When we take a look at the large carriers, we haven't really seen the resurgence in business travel. I know you cater to very special, wealthier clients. I'm just wondering if you're expecting to benefit as well from a general return to business usage of airplanes and flights.

GLENN GONZALES: I think we'll all see it. Scott Kirby's the chairman-- or, excuse me, CEO at United Airlines. He talks about it often that when you need to close that deal, Zoom works until you lose a deal. And we have found that our business owners, our entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses that are traveling with us, they're still getting business accomplished and still closing deals.

So we expect that trend to continue. That's the surge that we are all observing across the entire private aviation spectrum. And we just want to make sure that we are providing a consistent high level of service and experience and certainty. If you ask where the airplane, it shows up when it's supposed to be there so that you can get on with your business and accomplish the goals for you and your family, your business, your colleagues, whatever the case may be.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, Glenn, we thank you for stopping by here. That's Glen Gonzales, Jet It CEO and co-founder.