Whoever called airplanes “flying cattle cars” was probably having a particularly bad day, but everyone knows flying is not what it used to be back in the day, when taking a flight was a special affair and people dressed up for it.
While the air travel industry continues evolving toward a commodity model based on moving the most people for the most profit, a new private jet industry is starting to develop to offer alternatives for those planning group vacations. And they’re not just putting you up in a private jet, they’re providing a complete turnkey experience.
Presidential Aviation, an operator of private jets, recently launched a group leisure travel division called Presidential Private Jet Vacations aimed at the growing market of small groups traveling together who prefer more comfortable, luxurious and direct alternatives to what is offered by the Big Three airlines.
Presidential Private Jet Vacations, a Fort Lauderdale company, predicts that “a new era is dawning for sumptuous travel.”
Presidential Private Jet Vacations offers custom programs for private groups. Each jet is reserved for only one group. There are no set departures. It’s all custom.
The company puts sample itineraries on its website that may be used as starting points upon which to build a custom itinerary. Or the itineraries may be followed to the letter. Or itineraries can be built from scratch.
Itineraries are posted for Argentina, Morocco, Napa Valley, China, India, Hawaii, Israel-Jordan, South Africa and the Seychelles, Spain and South America.
Private jet travel has been steadily growing, but so far has primarily been focused on the elite business traveler. Presidential Aviation was founded in 1997 with one aircraft. Today the company operates 20 aircraft. But now the company sees an emergent market and a big opportunity.
So far Presidential Private Jet Vacations seems to have its new market to itself.
“There are others companies that offer private jet vacations,” said Oscar Arce, CEO of Presidential Private Jet Vacations. “But those jets are mostly for 60 to 70 passengers. We concentrate on smaller aircraft up to 18 passengers and the jets fly only with closed groups.”
The smallest jets are eight-passenger models. Any group flying with Presidential Jet Vacations takes the whole plane no matter the size of the group….
The pre-arranged itineraries on the site are peppered with special behind-the-scenes access and meetings with local inhabitants for an enriching cross-cultural experience.
“In India, guests can have dinner with a family of royal lineage,” said Arce. “In China you can make kite with last emperor’s kite maker.”
You can sail into the sunset on a private yacht in Patagonia, or ride a helicopter over Cecil Peak in New Zealand. In Napa you can have lunch with the winemaker’s family. You can have a cooking lesson in a private home in France.
Pricing proves that this product is not for everyone. Of the sample itineraries posted, the least expensive is the Napa Valley trip, which is priced from $22,400 per person in a group of 10 or more, including air travel from the east coast.
The China trip is priced from $85,500 per person for 12 people traveling from the U.S. east coast.
“There has been a lot of interest,” said Arce. “But this is not for everybody.
We’re looking at selling a few. It’s never going to be a mass market.”
By David Cogswell Courtesy TravelPulse