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by Lauren Davidson, The Daily Telegraph, March 25, 2016
An app that has been dubbed "Uber for private jets" has launched a new service in Europe that will allow customers to book empty seats on luxury routes between London, Paris and Geneva with a tap of the smartphone.
JetSmarter, which launched in the US in 2013, will also launch routes to Nice in May before spreading to Moscow later this year.
A ticket on a six-seat Citation CJ3 departing London for Paris at 8am tomorrow – scheduled as part of the company's JetShuttle service – can be booked for $749 (£525), while a seat between the UK and Geneva costs $999.
This compares to $599 for a last-minute ticket on an eight-seater jet between Los Angeles and San Francisco, $1,599 on a 16-seater flying from New York to Chicago, and $4,990 to travel on a 12-person flight between San Francisco and New York.
The JetSmarter app allows users to book last minute seats on private jet flights
JetSmarter allows passengers to book flights on a pay-as-you-go basis or offers an annual membership of unlimited travel for $9,000.
“By offering the JetShuttle service, we hope to maximise the convenience of private air transportation throughout Europe, and broaden consumers’ access to it,” said Sergey Petrossov, founder and chief executive of JetSmarter.
“With the convenience and affordability of these weekly scheduled flights between each popular destination, the hassle of flying commercial is now a thing of the past."
The flight-booking app already offers a charter service, which allows customers to book whole flights on unused private planes in JetSmarter's network and is considerably more expensive than booking a spare seat on a flight that is already scheduled.
The Fort Lauderdale, Miami-based company is part of the growing industry of sharing economy companies that use technology to monetise unused assets.
"When we launched, the $40bn private jet industry was feeding a small group of about 150,000 customers, so there was a very high amount of excess capacity as jets flew empty between locations to pick up passengers," Mr Petrossov said.
He said that more than a third of hours spent flying were done without passengers on board and that the average private jet was airborne around 300 hours per year, far below the optimal 1,100 to 1,200 hours.
Opening the private jet industry up to the slightly less wealthy tier of people – the first and business class travellers – by selling spare seats at more affordable prices could widen the market from tens of thousands to 2.5m to three million people in the US, Mr Petrossov said.
"This $40bn market could get five times bigger if optimally run," Mr Petrossov said.
"We will continue to service the top-tier customer but that’s not so disruptive or so scaleable – we just give them a more convenient way to book. But for the middle ground traveller, this is a whole new product to the industry."
JetSmarter wants to make private travel affordable for the first and business class passenger
JetSmarter is one of a growing number of apps catering to the on-demand aviation market for the luxury traveller .
It also comes amid increasing efforts from the aerospace industry to speed up travel, with companies from Airbus to Boom working on designs for supersonic flights that could cross the Atlantic in a matter of minutes.
JetSmarter has raised more than $52m from the Saudi royal family and the rapper Jay-Z among others.
Mr Petrossov said that more than 15,000 people in the UK have already downloaded the app and the number of paying customers around the world is doubling every three months.
He expects the JetShuttle service will be operating in 150 cities within two years.
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This article was written by Lauren Davidson from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.