The private-jet agency JetWay Air has been doing business with “A list” clients in California since its inception in 2006, and a number of Santa Barbarans—particularly people living in Montecito, and even more particularly those in the entertainment industry—are on that list.
Still, said Jacqueline Huynh Schaeffer, client services manager, the business has been primarily East Coast focused. Now, JetWay is launching a “West Coast push,” Schaeffer said, hoping to capture a larger share of the private-jetting market. Indeed, JetWay management is predicting high growth figures for the business.
The company claims that it can save private jetters up to 60 percent over larger companies “with the same jets, crew, safety and service with no deposit, long-term contract or fuel surcharge.” It does this by taking clients’ itineraries and then comparison shopping and negotiating with its preferred flight operators to secure a great deal.
Basically, it’s the classic small-business-focuses-on-customized-solutions principle. Employees work to find the specific jet for each flight itinerary on a case-by-case basis, thereby cutting the inefficiencies inherent in bigger and broader schemes.
For example, jet fraction schemes require clients to buy blocks of hours based on assumptions about their future travel needs. Capital is wasted, Schaeffer said, if these assumptions are incorrect. In addition, jet fraction and jet card schemes operated by the larger private-jet businesses require clients to preselect a single type of aircraft as their flying preference. The clients incur a significant “interchange” penalty if they need to switch to a different-sized jet for part of the trip, and these fees range from 10 to 20 percent of the trip’s total cost.
Schaeffer said the agency attempts to provide clients with a multiple-option price quote within 24 hours of receiving information on their trip, or within just several hours if needed.
Payment for the flight is made only days before the departure date, and clients are surveyed on satisfaction levels afterward.
The wealth among residents of Santa Barbara, and its location between Los Angeles and San Francisco, ensure a relatively high demand for short-haul private flights from here. The total market for private jets is projected to expand by one to 2 percent for the next few years, as the economy slowly gets back on track, according to JetWay’s founder and president Chet Dudzik, a 25-year pilot. He said that he believes his business can buck the slow-growth trend, and he predicts an ambitious “growth rate of 10 to 20 percent.”
“JetWay has its on-demand charter, no deposits, and no contracts,” he said. “Since our establishment in 2006, clients that we’ve engaged with can see that we’re still doing well,” said Dudzik. “They’re frustrated with the bigger companies, and in the current economic climate they’re looking for new and cheaper ways of doing things.”