How the Sharing Economy Is Changing the Future of Business Aviation

By Pratt & Whitney Customer Service

We talk to experts from PrivateFly and P&WC about the emergence of online booking and how the sharing economy is changing the charter aviation game.

Double-digit Growth in Charter Services Demand

The charter industry has proven to be one of business aviation’s most resilient sectors over the past decade and one of the strongest drivers of this success has been the growth of online booking services offering real-time access to hundreds, if not thousands, of available charters. Many of these services are available through a simple-to-use cellular phone application.

Charter’s acceptance of innovations in digital technology and communications has helped produce some enviable gains, with some markets posting annual double-digit percentage growth. With customers increasingly seeing the benefits of the sharing economy, this growth in demand is expected to continue for many years to come.

Giving the Customer Control

“The sharing economy improves the customer experience by empowering the customer,” explains Adam Twidell, a former military and corporate jet pilot who co-founded charter booking service pioneer PrivateFly with his wife Carol Cork in 2008. “It was clear to me that while customers were generally fine with the private jet experience they were not happy about pricing. Customers didn’t know how much they should be paying."

Customers using charter services are willing to pay, Adam says, "but they want to know they are getting value.”

Using the PrivateFly web platform or App, customers can verify what the flight will cost as well as the aircraft options. "By offering the customer complete transparency we put them in control of their purchase,” Adam explains.

He says this control is becoming even more important as customers become more knowledgeable about aviation, and increasingly ask for more detailed information; not only about the cabin interior but also concerning the aircraft type, age and national certification, as well as the pilot’s experience and the aircraft’s engine.


Co-founders Adam Twidell and Carol Cork of PrivateFly

A New Approach

P&WC Business Development Manager Hugo Trépanier agrees that charter booking platforms have uncovered a previously unmet need. “The booking process itself is the differentiator. It is simplified and real-time and it improves the customer experience. There is an efficiency and transparency that did not exist before and customers are showing an appreciation for these services,” Hugo says.

The ability to book charter flights online with a cell phone has been key to the success of these booking platforms, according to PrivateFly. “It used to take hours if not days to book a charter flight and you had to make multiple calls to brokers if you wanted to compare prices. Now, we offer you instant access and a wide variety of choice,” says Adam.

That speed makes a tangible difference. Last month, PrivateFly was able to get a customer airborne just 31 minutes after initial contact, a feat that illustrates the truly disruptive effect that booking services have had on the charter market.


Hand holding smartphone showing PrivateFly booking app

Putting Idle Assets to Work

This disruption is benefiting owners and operators, too. “The sharing economy takes idle assets and makes them work,” says Adam. “And while most of the inventory is owned by established charter operators there is an interest in bespoke aircraft that really echoes the sharing economy experience of Uber and Airbnb. This really offers a huge opportunity for growth,” he continues.

That growth in capacity may be needed. According to Adam, corporations and fractional owners are showing continued interest in the value of charter flights and demand for charter likely will increase with the return of economic prosperity in key regions, particularly Europe.


Cessna Citation Mustang in flight

A Growing Aviation Community

Adam also points out that the simplicity and user-friendliness of online booking platforms provides an “easy point of entry” for people seeking an alternative to commercial airline services. While established business aviation users still account for the majority of bookings, 15% of passengers told PrivateFly last year they have never flown a business aircraft before. This is a clear statement that the potential for this market is big.

The platform's ability to attract new customers while improving the experience for all charter users is something that should be applauded, says P&WC’s Hugo.

Bringing new people into the industry and improving customer service can only be good for the business aviation community


As the growth of charter booking services shows, business aviation continues to be a vibrant industry using innovative customer experience solutions to better serve diverse needs around the world.

New mobile Apps and technologies are not only bolstering the charter flight industry, but also helping OEM's get quick and free access to P&WC's experts with the new Onsight too, offering a two-way audiovisual link through a mobile device that’s secure and encrypted to easily collaborate with P&WC engineers. Read all about it here.

Photo courtesy of PrivateFly