JetBlue works to gain inroads in a the semi-private charter market with new JetSuiteX relationship 

After it increased it investment in semi-private charter operator JetSuiteX, it was no surprise JetBlue opted to forge a unique codeshare agreement with the semi-private charter operation, which is targeting a somewhat niche traveller looking for an upscale experience at a reasonable price point.


Summary:

  • After boosting its share in the JetSuiteX public charter arm of private jet charter specialist JetSuite, JetBlue Airways has now entered into a codeshare arrangement;
  • JetSuite is a private jet charter company with an operating fleet of Embraer Phenom 100 and 300 business jets and Embraer ERJ-135 jets;
  • JetSuiteX’s target market is essentially savvy travellers frustrated with commercial air travel that will use public charter services at the right price point.
  • JetBlue has concluded that JetSuiteX’s growing operation will “benefit both our customers, and, ultimately, our shareholders”.

JetSuite, in its current iteration, emerged in 2008, and is a private jet charter company with an operating fleet of Embraer Phenom 100 and 300 business jets and Embraer ERJ-135 jets. The company’s public charter arm, JetSuiteX, launched in 2016, and later that year JetBlue opted to invest in JetSuiteX after it lost a bidding war for Virgin America to Alaska Air Group. Recently, JetBlue upped its stake in JetSuiteX, and now has a 10% share in the company.

JetSuiteX’s target market is essentially savvy travellers frustrated with commercial air travel that will use public charter services at the right price point. The company has spent roughly USD1 million to refurbish its six ERJ-135s with leather seats featuring 36-in pitch and in-flight Wi-Fi. Service amenities include complimentary cocktails and snack service, powerports at every seat and the relief of no US TSA checkpoints in lieu of a more civilised screening process before boarding. That results in passengers having the freedom to arrive just 15 minutes before departure. In some instances, JetSuiteX’s fares start as low as USD129 one way.

JetBlue has concluded that JetSuiteX’s growing operation will “benefit both our customers, and, ultimately, our shareholders”. Through the codeshare, customers can book JetSuiteX’s flights directly on JetBlue’s website. However, there are no plans for customers on either operator to transfer to their respective flights.

JetSuiteX has made public declarations of growing to 100 aircraft by 2022. For now, it is not clear how prominent JetBlue’s role will become in that growth. JetBlue executives have remarked that the ability to fly between privately run fixed based operations (FBOs) with both a competitive fare and price, is something it clearly wants to be a part of.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes recently remarked his company would continue to watch the semi-private space, and “as they [JetSuiteX] grow, then the growth has to earn its way into the network, just like it has to its way in our network”.

Aside from a means of ensuring its gets a favourable return on its investment, JetBlue’s decision to codeshare with JetSuiteX allows the airline to access what it deems as a semi-private high value market.

JetBlue has been one of the most vocal airlines about achieving a favourable net promoter score (NPS), and according to npsbenchmark.com, the airline’s NPS as of Oct-2017 was 59. Generally, a NPS of 50 is viewed as an excellent result. Delta recently stated its NPS has grown from 20 in 2011 to 41.5 in late 2017, and its target was around 50.

Delta believes tangible benefits of its NPS growth include a domestic revenue premium growth versus the US industry of 109% in 2011 to 117% in late 2017. Some of the contributors to NPS growth in 2017 include operational reliability, free entertainment and upgraded snacks.

Previously JetSuiteX has touted its NPS is around 90, although the measurement is off of a much smaller passenger base than JetBlue or Delta. Still, Mr Hayes declared: “when you look at the customer NPS data [of JetSuiteX], when you look at the level of customer satisfaction and repeat purchase, I would say once someone has tried that experience, they really don’t want to go back”.