JS 58: Fly Private for the Price of First Class with Will Ashcroft CEO of JumpJetNovember 11th, 2013 by Jason | Comments Off on JS 58: Fly Private for the Price of First Class with Will Ashcroft CEO of JumpJet
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Will Ashcroft is the CEO of Jumpjet. He joins the show to explain how Jumpjet makes it easy for people to fly privately. Ashcroft believes there are numerous advantages to flying privately.
Many millionaire’s can’t justify the cost of operating a private jet, but with Jumpjet, there are reasons for private jets becoming more affordable. Ashcroft walks us through the margins in his industry.
For more information see: http://www.jumpjet.com
ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the JetSetter Show, where we explore lifestyle-friendly destinations worldwide. Enjoy and learn from a variety of experts on topics ranging from upscale travel at wholesale prices, to retiring overseas, to global real estate and business opportunities, to tax havens and expatriate opportunities. You’ll get great ideas on unique cultures, causes, and cruise vacations. Whether you’re wealthy or just want to live a wealthy lifestyle, the JetSetter Show is for you. Here’s your host, Jason Hartman.
JASON HARTMAN: Welcome to the JetSetter Show! This is Jason Hartman, your host, where we explore lifestyle-friendly destinations worldwide. I think you’ll enjoy the interview we have for you today, and we will be back with that, in less than 60 seconds, here on the JetSetter Show.
JASON HARTMAN: It’s my pleasure to welcome Will Ashcroft to the show! He is the CEO of Jumpjet, a unique way to fly private! Will, welcome. How are you?
WILL ASHCROFT: Jason, well. Thanks so much for having me this afternoon.
JASON HARTMAN: Good. So, tell us about Jumpjet, and what makes it unique.
WILL ASHCROFT: Well, Jumpjet essentially affords the current airline traveler who’s frustrated with their airline experience, the ability to fly on a private jet for either the same price they’re paying, or less. And we have today membership packages that whether you’re a flexible sort of Baby Boomer that has lots of time on your schedule, to a busy executive, that’ll enable you to fly on a private jet at a cost that is incrementally 90% less than the price of traditional charter.
JASON HARTMAN: It’s a big leap from flying business or first class to flying private, even on the shared private jet programs that I’ve seen out there. So, tell me about yours specifically. I mean, these are people who have jets, who probably want to put them to work, and make sure they’re making money while they’re sitting, right? It’s not the deadhead flight, is it?
WILL ASHCROFT: Absolutely, absolutely correct. And that’s an important distinguisher in Jumpjet’s model, is that we rarely use empty legs. We’re very much about booking the charter, about setting up the charters, plural, in an efficient manner, which is how we’re able to afford people this wonderful value proposition. We’re not about getting the empty leg, and/or canceling the empty leg. We’re very much about bringing the aircraft in from a charter program, and setting it up in such a way that it’s efficient. Where, we are not for the person who has an interest in commanding the jet, telling the jet what time and where it will be, calling from the golf course or dinner and extending the aircraft. We’re very much about a set of rules that enable us to offer this value proposition. So, you fly with other members, once you accept the reservation you are locked in. And once that reservation is locked in, we already know the efficiencies, and so therefore we go into the marketplace with the very safe charter operators that we use, and we book the aircraft. So, I won’t say we never, but we very rarely use empty legs, because we’ve found them not to be good for us.
JASON HARTMAN: So, why are they not good, though? The empty legs?
WILL ASHCROFT: Well, quite often, an empty leg becomes the victim of its principle. So that if it’s posted and it’s available one minute, it can quite often get taken away by the person who owns, or has the management of that aircraft. And so, if you get your customers lined up, and it gets taken away, you have unhappy customers. And also, there’s so many of these empty legs posted quite often in real time; it’s hard to translate them into—
JASON HARTMAN: Into an actual trip.
WILL ASHCROFT: Exactly.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, I’ve found that to be true too. So, I almost hate to bring up sometimes the name of a potential competitor, but, what’s the difference between you and, say, BlackJet?
WILL ASHCROFT: Ah, the wonderful friends of BlackJet. Yes. Well, BlackJet is very much a per seat entity, in the sense that, as I understand their model, and I don’t live on their website every day, nor do I follow everything they do, so you have to give me a bit of leeway here if I’m slightly off. But my understanding is, you pay a membership fee, which I believe is in excess of $2000 to join them. Ours is only $550. But then you make your booking, and they have to get a certain number of people on their plane. And then they move the plane. Whereas whether we have one, or 15 people, we book the aircraft, we book the trip—
JASON HARTMAN: And that trip is happening. So you can depend on it. Yeah.
WILL ASHCROFT: Exactly. And you know, BlackJet, you know, wonderful company. I think what’s wonderful about Jumpjet and BlackJet is that we both realize there is a—an absolute need for this service. And I think, you know, that we’ve been around for the longest. I’m actually credited with being the person that invented this space in 2006. So, our depth of understanding of the market is perhaps a little deeper than some others out there. But I think to both of our credits, you know, some venerable names have come into this space, faulted, and gone, whether it’s the likes of Virgin Charter, Day Jet, and others along the wayside. So, you know, I think the market is large enough, certainly for both of us, and we both have a different take on the space, so to speak.
JASON HARTMAN: Okay. So, let’s look at an example here, if we can. You have three membership plans. The upper club, the upper club plus, and the coast to coast elite. So, none of these are going out of the continental US, it looks like, right?
WILL ASHCROFT: Today that’s correct.
JASON HARTMAN: Right, okay. So, with the starting program, it’s $28,000 a year, and you get 10 guaranteed round trip flights, within your own and a neighboring time zone, and up to seven guests, for $1500 each. So, how does that pencil? I mean, let’s look at an example of how that really pencils out. For example, take me. If I want to leave from Scottsdale Air Park in Phoenix, Arizona, which is a little private airport that a lot of private jets go in and out of, where would I fly, and how would it look?
WILL ASHCROFT: Well, what’s nice about the Jumpjet model, in terms of the time zones—that 28,000 range, you can go from, I believe, and I always get confused with Arizona, but I’m guessing you guys are on Pacific time—
JASON HARTMAN: Well, the thing that should be so non-confusing about Arizona, is that we don’t do that silly thing of changing our time. In fact, all of you guys should not change your clocks too. It’s a really great system.
WILL ASHCROFT: Well, we’ll leave time zone politics for another time. I’ve got a few views on that myself, but it’s very much about if you look at what those airlines cost you in terms of flying to that next time zone. So, if you have to fly into—within your time zone, I mean, just look at where you can go from Phoenix to, say, Seattle, or to Los Angeles, or San Francisco. But what’s nice is you can also go into the Mountain Time Zone, so, Aspen, Denver, I believe Kansas City is even in that time zone. So, it’s really when one weighs that up, and one looks at what your needs are, and what is absolutely key for potential Jumpjet customers, is our flexible plan starts at $1500 for the same membership you just mentioned. And our executive plan goes up to $11,000. Now, these numbers, you know, might seem low, might seem high. Well, when it costs $44,000 to go round trip on a private jet from New York to Los Angeles, $11,000 is very considerable in terms of good value for your money. When you look at the price of, say, Southwest Airlines, Business Select—and I use Southwest frequently—one can pay $1100 to go round trip. So, our price point is not really out of the touch of the general traveling public. So, if you live in Phoenix, and have a need to travel, whether it’s for business, or complete leisure, and have flexibility, our membership programs can get you to a number of destinations. And next year, when we introduce our new, soon to be announced individual class, you don’t have to be a member, and the prices will be as low as $450 round trip. So, I’m very excited by both what we’re doing now, and what we have coming down the pipe.
JASON HARTMAN: Okay, so, let’s take this example again. So, $2800—if you take the upper club membership, $2800 per year, so it’s $2800 per flight.
WILL ASHCROFT: $28,000 for the year.
JASON HARTMAN: Right, sorry. $28,000 per year. So I’m dividing by ten, so that’s $2800 per flight. So, how does one make that pencil, though? The other examples you gave sounded pretty attractive, in terms of price. But how—tell us about how this pencils out. I mean, $2800 to go to Aspen and back round trip is pretty expensive.
WILL ASHCROFT: Well, it might be considered expensive. And obviously, our yet to be announced program is bringing the prices even further down. But when you compare that trip in a private jet, probably it would cost you around $21,000. $2800 is definitely a value. Is it for everyone? No. But everyone has to start somewhere. I’m very proud, in the last six years, Jumpjet has spent a lot of time researching where our business model will go from $500 all the way up to $55,000. And so, I think that, you know, while we’re not for everyone, and you bring up a very good point, that we aren’t for everyone, the experience of flying private has to have a value attached to it.
JASON HARTMAN: Oh, sure it does. I’m not saying it should be the same as Southwest. But that was your comparison, not mine.
WILL ASHCROFT: The My Southwest comparison kicks in with, you know, when for example, if you look at, say—and again, our new program rollout next year is a bit of a hush hush at this moment. But you know, when you look at Southwest the other day, I was $553 round trip from Albuquerque to New York. Excuse me, each way. So it was just about including taxes, about $1100. If I give someone the ability to do that for $450 or $750 or even $1100 round trip, you know, that’s really breaking over the price point. I do agree with you that $2800, or even $5500, fro New York to LA, we’re not for everyone. But we certainly do compare—you know, the first class prices change so often, but when you look at the averages over the course of a year, with most major carriers, our value proposition is spot on with the term, you know, fly private for the price of first. The other thing that’s quite important to point out is that the airlines don’t say, ah, you’re taking someone else, we’ll give you a discount. They say, you’re taking someone else, the price is going to be the same. And certainly with young children, I think it is absolute madness the way the airlines charge full price for a two year old. And as a father, my customers frequently say to me, you know, will you raise that price as your kids get older? And the answer is yes, because I’m the first to look across the aisle and say, this is mad, that my little daughter, who takes up a fraction of the space, is paying full fare. You know, but again, we can’t be all things to all people. But in the last year, first class prices have been as high as $3500 on American Airlines from New York to Florida. And when I called to find out just how many seats they sold, she says, well, believe it or not, we do sell seats, and you have to go via Dallas to get to Florida. So, I think when one looks at the average, and the frustration, which goes away with flying private, you know, we’ve—we’re really created something very special here.
JASON HARTMAN: Well, okay. So, it’s $1500 for each guest, right?
WILL ASHCROFT: Correct. Unless you’re on the coast to coast program; then it’s $2000, and you’re limited to three.
JASON HARTMAN: Oh, sorry, $2500 for coast to coast.
WILL ASHCROFT: For coast to coast; correct.
JASON HARTMAN: So, you must really keep these planes fairly full, right?
WILL ASHCROFT: No. I mean—
JASON HARTMAN: I mean, limited to three, for example?
WILL ASHCROFT: Well, limited to three guests. If you have a 15 passenger aircraft—we don’t fill every seat. We do try to take into account that not every private jet was created equal, and some have sofas, some have—some even consider a seatbelt on a toilet a seat. And a number—
JASON HARTMAN: A jump seat.
WILL ASHCROFT: Yeah. Someone said the other day that if you started using that you could say, fly Jumpjet and go flush. But I don’t think that would go down too terribly well with our customers. So, we try and be very cognizant when we’re sizing the trips, as we bump up against the national average, I’ll say. So if look at, say, a [unintelligible] 850 XP that says it can seat nine, well, that might be six individual seats and three on a sofa. Well, if you don’t know everyone you’re flying with, that can be awkward on a sofa. So, we make every effort to try and, as we bump up against the national average, try and reduce down those numbers and make sure that we’re not packing nine people onto a nine passenger plane, and one person says, well, it did flush.
JASON HARTMAN: Are you flying any of the very light jets, like the Cessna Citation Mustang? Certainly I think the Eclipse would be too small, what’s left of Eclipse. But you know, the Citation, the Phenom—the Phenom 100, it’s a very light jet—
WILL ASHCROFT: You know, the Phenom and the Citation are wonderful products, but they are small. And so, on occasion, we will, if we know we have, say, two, possibly three people that know each other, and there’s a real reason to use that aircraft, we will look at using those aircraft. But they’re very awkward aircraft to put total strangers on, and also, they’re very limited in their baggage. Most private jets are limited in their baggage, but they’re especially limited. And they have a very niche market, both made by incredible manufacturers who put a lot of thought and effort, but I think they went one step too far, in terms of size. So, I personally would rather see someone go on a King Air than I would on one of the very light jets.
JASON HARTMAN: Right, okay. Well, that’s a good example—do you fly a King Air?
WILL ASHCROFT: We do. On occasion we use a King Air. Sometimes we really have to have an intimate discussion with our customer, because if a country believes that a propeller is dangerous, and what most people don’t realize is that a jet turbine engine is as safe as—it’s a jet engine, just with a propeller.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, right.
WILL ASHCROFT: And it flies the wonderful Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine. So, on occasion we do have some convincing to do, but typically we use King Air on some of the shorter legs, on some of the, you know, if we know we’ve got someone going into—
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, I got the idea. So, are your planes all dual pilot? Because in the VLJs, you can fly single pilot, and I believe you can do that for charter, though I’m not sure. I think so.
WILL ASHCROFT: You are—you’re—we do not. You’re absolutely right about the VLJs, and even some of the Citations you can fly single pilot. But it is very, very rare, and I would not subscribe to me customers being on a plane that didn’t have two pilots.
JASON HARTMAN: Okay, so you’re all dual pilot. Okay, good. Anything else you want us to know in closing, Will? And please give out the website, jumpjet.com, fairly obvious.
WILL ASHCROFT: You can find us at jumpjet.com, thank you, Jason, for that. You can also see us on Jumpjet TV, on YouTube, and our first issue of Jump, the magazine, will be coming out in a few weeks, so I encourage folks to go onto our website and register for that. And just—it is exciting times. I think for Jumpjet, we are the leader by far in the market space. We’re setting a standard that I think is very exciting, and I’m looking forward very much as our plans grow and our markets grow, to what comes down the road for us in the next 24 months.
JASON HARTMAN: Fantastic. Will Ashcroft, thank you so much for joining us today. The website is jumpjet.com.
WILL ASHCROFT: Jason, thank you so much for your time.
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Transcribed by David