Private Jets Inc. Positioning

Private Jets, Inc. has grown to become one of the largest air charter businesses in Oklahoma. Private Jets provides service to and from destinations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, South America and more. The company operates a fleet of nearly 20 aircraft at bases in Oklahoma, Texas and Florida. Private Jets serves clients interested in business, leisure or emergency travel. Aircraft are available for charter 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

CHALLENGE

A plane is a significant investment for both individuals and companies who are frequent travelers. This leads to many jet owners wanting to recoup the costs of the aircraft through charter flights when they aren’t using it for their own purposes. Owners typically hire a charter management company to oversee the maintenance and flight operations as well as to coordinate the booking with charter prospects, which maximizes their investment in a private plane while keeping the aircraft in sound, working order in adherence of federal regulations. Plane owners must meet requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to keep their plane safe for personal civil aviation, and FAA requirements are much more stringent for hired-out planes than for planes only used by the owner. Standards that must be met include things like maintenance, pilot training and experience, the hours a pilot can fly in one day, and drug and alcohol testing for pilots.

An illegal charter flight happens when plane owners have not gone through the FAA’s process to become a legitimate charter operator. Illegal charters have become a problem for the chartering public due to a lack of clarity around the definition of an “illegal charter” and the risks involved with hiring an illegal charter flight. Illegal charters are not regulated by the FAA, which means they do not meet the same standards as legitimate operators. If anything goes wrong and the flight is deemed illegal, insurance will not pay damages or for loss of a life. A plane flying an illegal charter operation could also be impounded, leaving passengers stranded and owners without an aircraft. Illegal flights provided are less expensive, yet at great risk to all involved.

Private Jets has taken the proper steps through the FAA to operate as a legitimate charter business. Private Jets is a firm believer in the safety standards set forth by the FAA because it ensures its employees

and customers are traveling in the safest aircraft possible. As a business that puts the safety and well- being of its employees and customers before all else, educating the industry and customers on the proper way to book a private charter has become extremely important.

Upon researching illegal charter operations, Koch Comm found the FAA and National Air Transportation Association’s (NATA) have taken numerous steps to combat illegal charter operations. The FAA has taken enforcement action against pilots and operators of illegal charters, while NATA’s Air Charter Committee launched a task force to raise awareness of the dangers of operating illegal charters among private citizens and industry leaders as well as curating NATA’s mission of creating safe and successful aviation businesses.

Through the use of third-party research, Koch Comm learned illegal charters are often booked because:

• Travelers are unaware of the proper ways to book a charter
• The lower cost to travelers

Koch Comm also learned many people within the aviation industry are often unaware illegal charter activity is actually taking place.

STRATEGY

Koch Comm’s strategy on this particular issue was to position Private Jets’ president Eric Wells as an expert in the industry through weighing in on the broader conversation addressing the dangers of illegal charters. To achieve this Koch sought to raise awareness amongst business owners who book private flights and aviation industry leaders on the dangers of illegal charter operations. Chosen tactics included a news release, targeted to trade outlets covering the aviation industry and business publications in markets Private Jets has a presence, and a feature opinion piece drafted specifically for Business Airport International, a popular aviation trade publication. Business Airport International was selected because they frequently invite industry executives to provide guest articles for their features and opinion pages.

RESULTS

NATA’s vice president of aircraft management, air charter services and MROs read the opinion piece in Business Airport International drafted from Wells’ perspective, resulting in NATA officials inviting Wells to serve on its illegal charters task force. They stated Wells’ enthusiasm and concern for the issue demonstrated he would be a good advocate for carrying their message forward. Wells accepted and he’s now working alongside approximately 30 industry professionals from across the country to raise awareness for and combat the use of illegal charters. The outcome also feeds into Koch Comm’s broader strategy of positioning Wells as an expert in the aviation industry through his ongoing involvement with NATA, which provides him and the company with increased credibility within the industry.