Australian bushfires spark new opportunity for private jet start-up

Australian bushfires spark new opportunity for private jet start-up
Published: 19 January 2020 - 5 a.m.
By: Aviation Business

While the ongoing bushfires in Australia have been a catastrophe for most, a private jet start-up has managed to create substantial new business on the back of a severely disrupted airline network.

The bushfires, which have seen a large smoke haze sweep across large swathes of the country, have caused havoc for air travel with just 51% of Melbourne to Sydney flights arriving on time in November, according to the federal government's Airline On Time Performance report.

Business executives across the country have been impacted by the slowdown in conventional air transport along the heavily disrupted Melbourne to Sydney route, which is served by the likes of Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin and Tigerair.

Airly, a private jet start-up, saw enquiries shoot up by 35% in December, according to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Luke Hampshire, Airly's co-founder and chief executive, told the newspaper that airlines’ unreliability has helped to market the start-up.

Airly members pay a fee of $68 US a month and can fly for around $839 US one-way, depending on demand for the flight.

The company hopes to double turnover over 2020 to nearly $700,000 US as disruption among airlines continues.

Mr Hampshire said Airly has saved passengers hours on their flights after they managed to avoid airline delays and slot congestion.

Airly only has around 80 members so far and the private jet market in Australia remains relatively small compared to the likes of the US.

But its founders believe there is a significant opportunity to be had in “[removing] the stigma” from flying privately.

Mr Hampshire said: “There is a lot of attention around climate change and we have already put steps in to combat that. We choose the more efficient jets and fill flights that would normally be empty and we are introducing a 100% offset at a cost we will fully absorb.”

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