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Uncovering the empty leg myth

By Luxury Lifestyle Magazine on 2nd April 2017

With no queues, no fixed schedules, no delays and no hassle, private jets are the most efficient means of getting from point A to point B; the ultimate form of travel.

But getting to point B brings with it an inherent problem – returning to point A.

Whether it’s a businessman attending an important meeting or a family jetting off on holiday, private jet passengers often have the need to delay their return journey. And it’s rare that an aircraft can simply wait around for that trip home, bringing with it a common theme across the industry – that of ‘empty legs’.

An empty leg occurs when an aircraft must make a journey back to its home base (or onto a subsequent destination in preparation for its next charter flight) without any passengers – a situation that occurs in an estimated 40% of private jet flights. The result is inefficiency and wastage across the industry, meaning low margins for aircraft operators (as they’re unable to make a profit from a passengerless flight) and high prices for customers (who are made to cover the costs of the return leg when booking).

Stratajet
There are 2,107 airfields across Europe that are accessible by private jet, with 4,437,432 different route combinations between them

In recent years, a number of private jet charter companies have attempted to provide a solution to this by publishing all of their available empty legs online. While this can prove a cost-effective way to hire a private jet, with operators often offering empty legs out to customers for significantly discounted prices, a further problem arises in the scheduling of these flights.

There are 2,107 airfields across Europe that are accessible by private jet, with 4,437,432 different route combinations between them. The challenge, therefore, comes with being in the right place at the right time in order to board a specific flight. In fact, the chances of finding a flight which is travelling from your location to your desired destination at the time you want it to are negligible. What’s more, private jets – as we suggested earlier – are designed to work around the schedule of the individual making the booking. So, even if a passenger is able to find a flight that suits their itinerary, being told that they have to depart at a certain time defeats this principle.

The scope of the empty leg market is, then, relatively untapped because until now a technology hasn’t existed to fully solve the issue. One provider, however, has developed a system that incorporates empty legs into regular flight searches, where necessary diverting the aircraft to meet the demands of the passenger.

Stratajet is the world’s first fully-automated private jet booking platform, capable of allowing customers to book a private jet through a completely online system. Via a highly sophisticated programme, which took five years to develop, Stratajet is able to identify all the aircraft that are available for any flight search, and reposition a jet to suit the passenger’s schedule.

When a customer conducts a search, the system first takes into account all available airfields near the inputted address and cross-references these with all available aircraft, including any located further afield. The system then examines whether there are any empty legs on the route, close to that route or overlapping with the route and determines if would be efficient to employ that aircraft and adapt it if needed.

Stratajet
Stratajet is the world’s first fully-automated private jet booking platform, capable of allowing customers to book a private jet through a completely online system

Take the example of an aircraft returning to London after dropping a passenger in Madrid, while another passenger wishes to fly to London from Ibiza. Rather than chartering a separate jet, Stratajet’s technology can assess how much the aircraft in Madrid is going to cost its operator to fly to London empty and weigh it up against the cost of picking the passenger up in Ibiza and making the return journey. In this case, there is greater efficiency in flying from Madrid to Ibiza and then returning to London with a paying passenger than there is in undertaking the Madrid to London flight empty, so the aircraft in Madrid would be shown as one of the options when the search results are displayed on the system.

The result is a win-win situation as the operator of the aircraft is able to benefit from an improved margin on the flight, while the passenger enjoys all the perks of private jet travel at a fraction of the cost. Empty legs can return savings of up to 75% on the costs of the charter.

This ability to reduce the wastage across the industry has the potential to redefine how people see private aviation. Rather than the elitist perception that currently renders private jets ‘unattainable’ by most, there is scope for the mainstream traveller to have access to private jets. Stratajet’s technology is already having a positive effect on the industry, growing its audience by introducing new customers. 32% of Stratajet’s customers are first-time private jet fliers (compared with the industry average of less than one percent), often taking advantage of the system’s empty legs and subsequently coming to realise how smooth and efficient the experience of flying by private jet can be.

Stratajet allows you to search for, compare and book from the largest choice of private jets for charter at the best prices, instantly.

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