A lack of digital innovation is holding back the private aviation industry according to AeroBid CEO and founder Zaher Deir, whose data and instant communications bring a fast, transparent and convenient way for brokers to request charters for their clients and for operators to receive and bid on live flight requests.
“As demand for private flights increases, the industry must revolutionise, and the answer to its most pressing challenges is digital,” says Deir. “Much like other sectors, private aviation has taken steps to digitise in recent years, but it hasn't been enough to shake up the industry and deliver what brokers and operators need to thrive in an evolving digital world.”
Empty legs remain a lost opportunity, while the flight request and bidding processes remain slow, despite the introduction of online portals to request and bid for flights. If anything, the early stages of private aviation's 'online revolution' have created more problems than they solve, such as the price transparency challenge that surrounds many online bids for charter.
He says that online platforms have not lived up to expectations, particularly when it comes to speed. Up until now, brokers have faced a choice between the traditional method of manually calling their network of trusted operators or requesting flights on a static online bidding platform, which often results in brokers resorting to manual calling anyway, due to a lack of real-time information and bidding processes. Deir says AeroBid addresses the issue of slow, manual flight request process by allowing operators to bid anonymously in real time on detailed flight requests. The broker then chooses the most valuable quotations for their client.
As demand increases, operators are finding themselves inundated with flight requests, many of which aren't relevant or useful to them. Operators are overwhelmed; current digital platforms that distribute requests from brokers can result in thousands of flight requests in a single day, generating masses of admin that makes it harder and more time-consuming to filter out the best opportunities.
Yet data should be simplifying workflow for operators, not complicating it, allowing operators to identify the most relevant and lucrative flight requests based on specific information. AeroBid's data-driven approach enables operators to take control of incoming requests: they can view full flight details, search by key information like location or aircraft and choose which requests to bid for. They can also choose to receive notifications when requests are posted with key criteria, automating what can otherwise be a laborious selection process.
Empty legs are a continual issue in private aviation, and it is thought that the majority of private aircraft journeys don't carry any passengers. This is a wasted opportunity for operators, who could monetise these empty legs at a fraction of the cost of their primary charters, benefiting brokers and their clients. If the industry could regularly harness even a percentage of empty legs it could, over time, create more affordable private charter fees, as operators use both their outbound and return journeys.
Most importantly, it could be a vital step towards greater sustainability. If an aircraft that would otherwise be empty were to carry passengers who would otherwise have booked another flight, fewer return flights would be needed to accommodate a greater number of passengers.
Deir adds: “I would say that around 30-50 per cent of the private flights that operate now are empty, either because the aircraft is going to pick up passengers or is returning to its home base after dropping passengers off. No one is making great use of those empty legs. It would be impossible to fill all of those flights, but with digital platforms and data it's certainly possible to use 80-85 per cent of them, and that would represent an enormous leap in efficiency and sustainability.”
Increasing demand for private air travel has led to a boom in private jet ownership, which when combined with supply chain issues in aircraft production has decreased the availability of aircraft. With private flight requests rising and aircraft supply stagnating, operators and brokers face the reality of demand that they cannot fulfil.
Data can ease this pressure on the industry, not by providing more aircraft or flights, but by maximising the efficiency of existing inventory. When demand outstrips supply, empty flights are a wasted opportunity. Online platforms need to align the supply and demand sides of private aviation more intelligently, so that operators don't miss any opportunity to meet demand, the bidding process becomes quicker and more accurate, and more flights get booked and fulfilled in a shorter space of time.