Meet Airly: A Private Jet Subscription That Is Thriving In 2020

As commercial flights ground to a halt in many parts of the world, smaller operators within the aviation have found demand climbing. The private jet business is one of those sectors. While private jets are beyond the reach of most people, subscription-based membership models help bring the cost down.

One of the Phenom 300 jets operated by Airly. Photo: Airly.

Bringing the cost of private jet travel down

Australian private jet business Airly is one such operator. It has benefited in two ways this year. First, it offers an alternative to commercial carriers. Second, its membership-based business model means the cost of a flight isn’t prohibitive.

As a result, Airly’s CEO Luke Hampshire says there has been a big increase in demand from business travelers. With Australia’s commercial airlines slashing capacity on the Sydney – Melbourne route, usually one of the world’s busiest, Airly got some uplift on the sector.

The airline, which usually uses Phenom jets, primarily flies businesspeople around. A lot of them are self-made, with multiple businesses running out of various cities. While video conferencing can take up a lot of the slack during lockdown, there’s always going to be a need for some face to face contact, necessitating some travel.

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Not just for businesspeople

But as Airly points out, its way of flying can make a lot of sense for tourists and families as well.

“For holidaymakers, Airly creates the opportunity to travel in style for very little additional cost compared to flying business class with the commercial airlines,” said Mr Hampshire.

“With limited local options from the commercial airlines and no way to holiday overseas, we expect domestic travelers looking to make the most of the upcoming winter break will make up the next wave [of demand].”

One of Airly’s Phenom 100s. Photo: Airly

The airline points out that its jets can get you into smaller airports such as Cooma and Mt Hotham in the ski fields, up to Byron Bay, or out west. As border restrictions wind back, the range of destinations will wind up.

This type of airline and its membership model of business isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you are looking at getting from A to B. But if you are the type of person who typically flies business or first class, this is surprisingly cost-effective.

The concept is gaining some traction here and elsewhere. In the United States, XOJET operates along similar lines to Airly, where you can charter either a single seat on an already operating service or book the entire plane.

The interior of the Phenom 300. Photo: Airly

Private jet travel can be cost effective

Airly will sell you a seat on a private jet between Sydney and Melbourne for around US$890. That can be cheaper than a business class seat on Qantas. The other advantage of airlines like Airly and XOJET is that flights depart from private terminals. There’s minimal waiting, streamlined security, and a whole lot less fuss than moving through a regular passenger terminal.

Luke Hampshire says membership has more than doubled since May, driven by those Sydney – Melbourne flights. Those numbers are helped by the fact that it costs nothing to join. He notes the airline isn’t just for Australians. As travel recovers and overseas passengers return, Airly is a good option for groups and families from overseas looking to travel around Australia, especially for those looking to get off the beaten track.

It’s kind of a virtuous circle. As the Airly boss says;

“The more members fly with Airly, the more flights become available. Our innovative membership-based approach creates a network effect.”