I N N O V A T I O N
CEO of PrivateFly
The online booking platform
Were you the first on-demand
e-broker in private aviation?
You can get into a competition about who
was the first to do it. What I’d say is that
we were the first to think about how people
search for private jet information – that was
our leading advantage. We took clients all
the way through from an enquiry, to quoting,
to booking, to paying online. It meant we
had a lot of customer acquisition online.
You were bought last year by US
multinational Directional Aviation.
How has that changed things for you?
Our parent company has a complete vertical
integration across private aviation. We
continue to compare all the market within a
safety-accredited network but at the same
time we now have access to the family
fleet, so to speak. It’s a bit like Expedia.
They compare all the hotel prices in New
York but at the same time they might offer
a promotion with a particular hotel they are
affiliated with. We can do the same thing.
Have you found the business aviation
sector to be resistant to change?
If we rewind 10 years no one believed in
the internet. That’s how behind the times it
was. Today the on-demand market is still
being hindered by out-of-date systems in
the background. Some airports like Geneva
are really good. They have a transparent,
streamlined slot-booking system for
showcasing when slots are available. But
they are still the minority. For example,
Mykonos is one of the most popular
European destinations in the summer
now but acquiring a slot there is hugely
complicated. There’s no reason why places
like Geneva can’t share their technology
with other airports they’re not in competition
with. I think representative groups like the
European Business Aviation Association
(EBAA) could help facilitate this.
What’s your advice to entrepreneurs
just starting out?
Talk to as many people as you can and
go directly to the big guys because you’ll
probably be surprised at how much time
these people give you – many are only too
happy to help and give back. Then once
you’ve listened to everyone trust your gut.
If we had listened to everyone, we probably
would have never started PrivateFly, but we
had a gut feeling that it was going to work
and went for it.
What will business aviation look like
Just as ten years ago in business
aviation there was a split
between believers and
non-believers when it came
to online, the same split
exists today for electric
flight. I’m certainly a
believer. There are over
200 different companies
now with aircraft at a
flying stage. They are
undoubtedly going to
have a big influence.
20 | BU S INE S S A I R P O RT INT E RNAT I ONA L O C TO B E R 2 0 1 9
“The on-demand market
is still being hindered
by out-of-date systems
in the background”