Semi-private and shared air travel has been making headlines this year, as this idea has expanded across operators. A prime example is XO, a large private aviation company, which has announced an expansion of its most in-demand route between New York and South Florida, providing greater access to their shared flight options.
XO Adds New Shared Flights
Shared private charter flights and crowdfunding provide sharing options onboard private jets. With these models the cost of a private jet is divided amongst several passengers onboard, rather than a single traveler paying for the entire flight. This sharing can reduce the cost - up to ten times – compared to chartering an entire aircraft.
As of October of this year, XO is tripling access to shared flights with multiple daily trips between the two destinations. XO will operate up to five shuttle flights per day in each direction linking Westchester County Airport north of New York City and Teterboro Airport, the primary private jet airport for Manhattan, with Palm Beach International, Fort Lauderdale International and Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport. The winter schedule calls for 30 flights per week. Each departure is supported by dedicated XO ground personnel to deliver end-to-end service.
The customized CRJ-200 aircraft has been reconfigured by removing two-thirds of the seats, creating a spacious yet private environment. The upgraded jets accommodate up to nine passengers on each side of the cabin, so all have aisle and window privacy, and each flyer may utilize the 4G WiFi, staying connected throughout the flight. In comparison, a CRJ-200 configured for a commercial airline may have about 50 seats. Each of these flights leaves from a private terminal (an FBO), which makes the travel much more comfortable compared to a crowded, busy commercial terminal.
With Menus Provided by Michelin
In addition, the in-flight service has been enhanced by a Michelin star-trained chef, and his menu, changing seasonally, is served by two dedicated Cabin Hosts and Hostesses. The dining experience, defined by menu options, change seasonally, and may be booked in advance through the XO mobile app.
In Conversation with Lynn Fischer, CMO of XO
SherpaReport talked with Lynn Fischer, Chief Marketing Officer at XO, on this shared flight option announced by XO:
SherpaReport: According to the latest XO news, in 2022, there has been a 93% acceleration of XO’s shared flight services compared to the first half of 2021. Why do you think that is?
Ms. Fischer: XO has pioneered and leads the shared flight opportunity, so private flyers can enjoy private flying benefits at one-tenth of the cost of a full charter, so in addition to economic value, shared flights offer significant sustainability advantages. While, on average, fewer than three passengers travel on board a private aircraft, shared flights accommodate 10 or more passengers, increasing the efficiency of seating capacity by 230%. WE set records in the first half of 2022. Results were driven by more shared flights, new private jet flyers, and a younger demographic.
In, addition, XO is the first private aviation entity to offer a complete end-to-end private aviation solution that includes our app-driven crowdfunding model. Crowdfunding means splitting the cost of a private jet charter among several passengers on the jet rather than a single traveler paying for the entire flight.
But, no matter what, there has been a growing awareness that the chaos of commercial travel enhanced by the pandemic – has not gotten better. Private aviation feels safer, easier, less exhausting, in terms of overall health and wellness.
SherpaReport: What were the other drivers in changing your membership structure?
Ms. Fischer: We felt that accessibility, coupled with sustainability were the future drivers of our offerings, so with our XO Shared Membership, a person may join at $595 a year, and the membership pays for itself very soon. Also, it provides Members with waived service fees for up to two seats per shared flight. So, there is XO Membership and an XO Shared Membership. XO also dropped its Elite Access fixed hourly rate membership but continued with its dynamic pricing options.
Finally, thus far, 62% of new requests came from first-time private aviation flyers, and nearly 33% of flyers were in between 18 and 44. This says a lot about the new traveling public-- they are younger and want to try flying privately.
But, in answer to your question, our XO drivers, are efficiency, transparency, and accessibility. Those are concepts that drive our brand, and drive our commitment to our guests, both seasoned and first timers.
SherpaReport: Please discuss the expansion of XO’s shared private flight service between New York and South Florida. How did this idea come about?
Ms. Fischer: XO expanded the New York to South Florida route - it is very popular - and will operate four daily flights, seven days a week between FBOs located in Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Opa-Locka, all in Florida, and White Plains, NY and Teterboro, in New Jersey. We also know the stats: Teterboro (1st), Palm Beach (2nd), Westchester County (5th), Opa Locka (8th) and Fort Lauderdale International (22nd) ranked among the busiest airports for private jets in 2021.
SherpaReport: In addition to the route between NY to South Florida, what plans do you have for other routes and schedules?
Ms. Fischer: XO chose that route for its popularity among XO members 33% of all arranged flights originated or ended in Florida in the first quarter of 2022. We also know that young tech industry executives have business in Ft Lauderdale, that has become a major tech center for the southeast.
But XO offers several other convenient shared routes:
Aspen: XO is seeing flights initiated by Members to and from Aspen, from locations like Los Angeles and the New York City area. These flights are crowdfunded. The clients can search and book a flight. Once the minimum number of seats are booked, the flight is confirmed
When hearing of semi-private air travel, the word oxymoron often comes to mind, a literary device combining words with contradictory definitions to form a new word or phrase.
For example, the phrases “old news”, “only choice”, “deafening silence”, are oxymoronic phrases. And now, the concept of semi-private air travel could be considered, if not an oxymoron, then something close to it.
But, the idea of sharing within the contemporary context of private is a trend to remember. Historically, luxury industries that often began as private have at times created a sharing dimension, so much so that books have been written about sharing economies. Back in 2011 we wrote about the “Collaborative Consumption of Luxury Assets” and this trend has continued to evolve. SherpaReport will keep you apprised of the further evolution of the opportunities in this sector.