Jets.com, a private aviation brokerage firm, allows clients to book a flight on demand or pre-purchase trips by the hour
by Jessica Jones-Gorman • Photos By Doug Polle
Edgar Alacan was a Wall Street guy, building a career in the brokerage industry, when a friend opened a private jet company in 2007 and asked for his help getting the business off the ground…as it were.
“Private travel was something that always intrigued me— many of my customers were wealthy individuals who used services like this to travel around the world,” Alacan said. “But I had no prior experience in the aviation industry— I just signed on to help out my friend.”
After working in the company for about a year, Alacan became enamored with the field of private aviation. “It was life changing to be a part of this fun, glamorous world. Totally different from what I was doing, such an interesting lifestyle and profession.” So, together with two friends and business partners, he launched Jets.com.
“I learned the business with my childhood friend, Manni Scarso and Damian Klinger, who worked in the brokerage industry with me,” Alacan said, naming his website’s other co-founders. “We started our own company in 2008 because after spending time learning the ins and outs of this business, we felt there was a need and a particular market for a company and a website like this.”
They started small but enjoyed rapid expansion: One office with a smallish staff suddenly grew to two locations and then a third. Today, the operation has offices in New York, New Jersey, and Boston staffed by a total of 50 employees.
The company provides two services. Charter, or flight on demand, is booked just like a limo ride; customers can access quotes and availability online or speak directly to a personalized service representative to arrange their private plane. Or, clients can pre-purchase a Jet Card which is loaded with 25 hours of flight time. Each time a flight is booked, the appropriate hours are deducted from the card total. “It’s one of our most popular options” Alacan said. “Customers pre-purchase hours at a certain rate and then book with those hours each time they fly. You have 25 hours on the card, take a flight that is three hours, there’s now 22 hours left to spend. For clients who fly often on business, it’s the most sensible option.”
Jets.com clients include a lot of executives from Fortune 500 firms and other frequent high-end business travelers. Destinations include airports all over the world and popular aircrafts are selected from a range of models, like the Hawker400XP, Lear 60XR, Challenger 300 and the Phenom 100. Prices vary, but Alacan says they are able to offer the best, most competitive rates because they maintain exclusive arrangements with large fleets and purchase hours at wholesale prices.
“We are a charter broker,” Alacan said. “We serve as the middleman between fleet operation and flyers. So as a company, we pre-purchase hours from larger fleets and then pass the savings on to our clients.”
The holiday season remains Alacan’s busiest time, with a combination of holiday travel and endof-
year business trips dominating the skies. “Our fourth quarter, which starts in September and extends to the end of the year, is always our busiest time,” the co-owner said. “People are back from summer vacation, attending to business, and then all of the holiday travel takes place as well.”
And the success that his business has garnered in the past seven years will most likely lead to expansion in the future.
“We plan on making some growth in 2015, possibly acquiring a couple of small private jet operators and of course are always looking at bringing on more employees,” Alacan concluded. “This is a wonderful, fun, and interesting line of work. And we only hope to develop it further in the future.”