Perhaps it’s fond memories of family vacations, or the thrill of her jet-setting adventures abroad, but Jessica Fisher feels most at home in the air.
“I’ve loved planes my whole life,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to be around planes and learn how to fly. It’s tied to travel and progress and technology and what human flight stands for—I wanted to be involved.”
A Long Island native, Fisher, 35, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania before enrolling in Columbia University’s entrepreneurship program, where her coursework allowed the freedom to pursue what she loves. Her first assignment in the Introduction to Venturing course was to create a novel business idea that could be executed in a compelling way. She thought, “How can I share a passion for aviation with the world?”
At the same time, Fisher was enrolled in flight school in Farmingdale, NY While taking to the skies, she began researching charter planes, and the wheels started turning. That’s when she came up with the concept for FLYJETS.
“I focused on charters specifically because back in 2012, there were no technology-based mechanisms to facilitate non-scheduled flights,” she recalls. “It was uncharted territory.”
Fisher, who included the business in 2018, wants to “pave the way for the future of flying.” The goal is to make private aviation accessible to more people, allowing consumers to save up to 50% on private jet travel while keeping the planet top of mind.
“There’s a lot of room to do good in the clean energy space within aviation,” Fisher says. “The intention is to create an effective marketplace and do it in a green way.”
FLYJETS is a global online aviation marketplace and travel planning system that essentially functions like a search engine. The start-up uses proprietary data and sourcing to enable the lowest point-to-point booking, so customers can purchase charter flights while filtering results based on aircraft, location, and departure time. They can book full charters, seats on shared charters, share itineraries with colleagues, bid on flights that don’t offer a fixed price, and benefit from empty leg discounts.
Membership is free. FLYJETS charges a 5% service fee on top of the wholesale price.
Since charter pricing is fluid, it changes with position, timing, and availability. Different planes have different pricing. For example, a super mid (eight to nine-seater) Challenger 300 or Challenger 350NY from New York to Florida could range from US$15,000 to US$30,000.
Flyers earn points through the FLYRewards program. Points are based on dollars spent and can be applied toward future flights.
WHAT’S THE GOOD?
The company organized its FLYGreen Energy Initiative, in which customers can purchase offsets. FLYJETS hopes to make consumers aware of carbon offsets and their accessibility.
For example, depending on the offsets purchased, the cost of making a one-way flight from Teterboro Airport, NJ, to Opa-Locka Airport, Miami, on a Bombardier Challenger 300 carbon neutral, by offsetting 100% of emissions, is less than US$60, Fisher explains. This flight would accommodate eight or nine passengers and usually price in the US$20,000 range, potentially more. In this case, the offset cost would be US$6.50 to US$7.50 per passenger at full capacity. With that, it’s easy to see how reachable carbon offsets can be.
Funds support various projects such as hydrogen-based steam generation in Tennessee, landfill gas extraction and electricity generation in Turkey, forest conservation in the Amazon, and the installation of high-efficiency wood-burning cookstoves in Uganda. Flyers can choose a project validated by The Gold Standard (GS) voluntary carbon offset program or Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).
Flyers can choose to fly with Sustainable Aviation Fuel or SAF (pending availability). Those who purchase carbon offsets or SAF earn additional FLYRewards points.
Fisher also founded The FLY Foundation, a non-profit whose mission supports aviation education, aviation and radio communication technology, and safe and sustainable flight. A percentage of each booking fee is funneled to the foundation.
Currently, passengers who prefer to travel with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) must contact FLYJETS and place a request, but that will likely change. “Sustainable Aviation Fuel has a way to go before it becomes cost-effective,” explains Fisher. “In the future, we plan to have it available at checkout.”
FLYJETS plans to roll out new features, including a commercial flights option and a dedicated section to hotels. Fisher anticipates those additions in 2023. Designed to incorporate an automatic scheduling feature, a mobile app is slated to launch later in 2022. Times and availability will update hourly, if not more often.
“Every time something moves, we know about it that minute,” Fisher says. “It allows us to be so much more accurate from a technology perspective.”
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