Priester Aviation, one of the most experienced private aviation companies, specializing in aircraft management, jet charter and aviation consulting, has just relaunched its 25 hour Centerline Jet Card program. SherpaReport spoke to Andy Priester, Chairman and CEO of Priester Aviation, about the relaunch of their card program, and what it means for the company and their clients.
Priester Aviation Background
Priester Aviation is a company with legacy, meaning it has been around longer than most, and is still run by the forbears of the original founder. The grandson, Andy Priester proudly discusses his heritage, beginning with his grandfather, George who founded the company in 1945.
George, like many of his generation who began companies still alive today, had humble beginnings, but like most visionaries, could see into the travel future post World War 2. He worked in a neighborhood garage, fixing cars, then, graduated to fixing airplanes at a local airfield. “An engine is an engine.” he said, back in the early 1950s. And for many years, there was some truth to that. Still, he could also see beyond, viewing private aviation as a business necessity, not only a mode of family transportation, used to visit loved ones in different states.
Yet as visionary as he was, he probably couldn’t see into the evolved private aviation business as it is now: with flexible cabin options, the invention and perfecting of SAFs, and jet cards becoming parts of the company he founded.
SherpaReport: Why did you choose this time, Summer 2022, for you to relaunch this Centerline Jet Card? What, in other words, allowed you to say “This is the time.”
Mr. Priester: This is a complex answer, as I would say it started, as many things did, with Covid. But then, there was our commitment to client loyalty. Because this is a company begun by my grandfather, we could not sell jet cards with fuel prices rising, and fear of illness rising also. So we took the jet cards off the market. Recently however, we have made modifications to the card, Covid has leveled off for the time being, and we think now is a safe time to reintroduce our Centerline cards. And we have been correct – since our re-launch, we have sold thus far 1/2 dozen cards, with 15-20 other interested people on our list.
SherpaReport: What modifications have you made to the newly relaunched card?
Mr. Priester: We are, right now, not offering a light jet, as there is the least amount of demand. We start at the mid-jet level – $299,875 for 25 hours, and the super-mid level, $365,000, which is $14,600 per hour, the heavy jet is $22,000 per hour. And with all of our jets, the ease of the travel experience, which creates long-term loyalty, is primary in our business.
SherpaReport: Are the flights on the Jet Card often or always on the Priester managed fleet, or do you have partnerships with other private jet aircraft providers?
Mr. Priester: Yes, we do have partnerships, mainly because our aircraft fleet are not always available. Of course, our fleet of aircraft is our primary choice, but if they are unavailable, we opt for the most experienced operators, and quality of aircraft.
SherpaReport: What are the typical/normal response times for accessing the aircraft?
Mr. Priester: The Centerline response time is usually within a 72 hour parameter.
SherpaReport: Can you tell me how much the refundable deposit is? How is it refundable?
Mr. Priester: We know that people’s lives change, and as we have heard many times, “ Winning a World Series comes from hitting consistent singles rather than hitting an occasional home run.” So, we want the refund to be refundable minus 10%. Not all private jet companies do this, but we feel our commitment is to our client, and that in turn, enhances their loyalty to us.
SherpaReport: When you mention concierge level service on the aircraft, what does that include?
Mr. Priester: It means a tailoring of the travel experience to what the client wants and/or needs. If, for example, clients go to San Francisco, our Priester Concierge can make dinner/theatre/entertainment reservations. If you want a certain type of food on the flight, we will work at making that happen also.
SherpaReport: Priester Aviation has recently added five new aircraft into your charter service. Which planes are they?
Mr. Priester: They are a Bombardier Global 6000, Gulfstream G500, Falcon 2000LXS, a Bombardier Challenger 300, and a Learjet 45.
SherpaReport: Finally, how many regional markets do you fly in, and probably most important, what is your mission and vision?
We fly in 14 regional markets, but we are also worldwide operators. It all depends on when and where you want to go. We will get you there.
Our mission and vision defines our commitment to our traveling clients, and others in the field: aircraft owners, flight departments, and clients needing management support and/or charter services. Our vision aligns with this - to maximize stakeholder value by growing the company through organic growth and strategic acquisition of culturally aligned operators. Basically, our legacy encapsulates these two things. As my grandfather envisioned, we do our best to be the best.