Sentient Jet’s Collins talks about the future of private aviation
The private aviation industry has been on one wild ride since COVID. During the height of the pandemic, private jets topped everyone’s list. Since 2023, however, the industry has changed. Andrew Collins, co-CEO of Flexjet, Sentient Jet's parent company, discusses the way forward for private aviation, opportunities that this new landscape presents and how sustainability fits into the conversation.
What is the state of private aviation today?
Flying private became more popular over 2020-22. During the pandemic, jet cards offered a solution for safe and private travel, appealing to many travelers who may have been considering flying private. In the midst of the “bleisure” and digital-nomad trends, we saw customers traveling more and as they pleased, making the jet card an ideal solution.
In 2023, the industry is drastically and quickly changing. After two years of a surge in demand and a historic influx of first-time flyers, it was only a matter of time for the demand to peak and return to pre-COVID levels. While the industry has seen a leveling off in sales and volume, we also believe it's incredibly promising and brimming with potential. When faced with the increased popularity, Sentient Jet thoughtfully chose a path that reduced growth but improved profitability.
Tell us about the digital transformation that Sentient Jet has gone through.
We first launched our mobile app in 2016, allowing cardholders to book flights on demand. With all industries becoming more digitally accessible, we also saw an opportunity to differentiate and launched our newest innovation: automated text-to-book. A first for the industry, this allows card owners to get quotes and book travel to and from anywhere in the world via text, working directly with our complex proprietary system. With user-authenticated, automated, AI-like interaction, users can quote and book a flight in less than 60 seconds.
How does sustainability factor into how you operate?
Our carbon-offset program goes beyond traditional programs by offsetting all aviation emissions — including water vapor, aerosols and nitrous oxide, which together account for two-thirds of the emissions an aircraft produces while flying.
Sentient Jet funds all offsets itself. Our sustainability program offsets 300% of the flight emissions on each and every customer flight at zero cost to the card owner. We have spent time reviewing our flight volumes, shared impact in the skies and various options to help continue driving this initiative forward. Our multimillion-dollar annual investment demonstrates our strong commitment to sustainability and continues to set a new industry standard. We hope to lay the groundwork for other private aviation companies to implement their own sustainability measures.
Also, as of this past spring, all Sentient Jet card owners are able to track their carbon footprint and emission-offset records via their post-flight invoices [available on Sentient Jet’s Card Owner Desktop Site and through the Sentient Jet Mobile App]. Another first for the industry, we use our own software to calculate each individual’s offsets and share it with them at no additional cost.
While sustainability is a challenging topic when it comes to the private aviation industry, we are proud to be leading the way with our investment and partnership with environmental leader 4AIR, the first and only rating system focused on comprehensive sustainability in private aviation.
You partner with other well-known brands and events to provide exclusive experiences for your clients. Can you share a few examples of that?
We offer an unparalleled safety program as well as exclusive partner benefits for our jet card owners, including access to first-class destinations and residence clubs, one-of-a-kind experiences, premium retailers and more. We recently announced our 10th annual Exclusive Benefits Guide, including offers from a wide range of partners across hospitality, food and wine, technology, retail and many more. These offers provide jet card owners with approximately $184,000 in total value.
We align with brands that we have long-standing relationships with and reciprocate our mission of providing jet card owners with a more thoughtful way to fly. Under service, we have exclusive offers from Flexjet Helicopters; Exclusive Resorts; the Eden Club; The Little Nell and PS, aka Private Suite; to name a few. For safety, we have partnered with REVA, the largest dedicated fixed-wing jet air ambulance company in the Americas, which provides medical assistance via air ambulances and seaplanes and a travel protection program with insurance benefits. Lastly, our sustainability partner, 4Air, also provides an option for clients to become a beyond-neutral and climate champion.
How do you plan to continue to innovate in the private aviation sector?
We believe people deserve a better way to book and fly private and have developed a premium yet practical flying experience to be more accessible to the public. Most recently, we added a coast-to-coast guaranteed program for Super-Mid flying, along with a unique summer offering to fly trans-Atlantic. We'll look to have quarterly offerings that layer on top of the product while we continue to work toward perfecting our clients’ digital experience as well as our creative thinking with sustainability.