Instajet is a new global private aviation company based in the Isle of Wight that wants to redefine the way passengers and operators view and experience private air travel with the use of an app and QR codes. Founded in 2018, the company currently has 10 employees.
In this Q&A Nick Davis, founder and chief executive of Instajet discusses how the company plans to make private air travel simple and available through its transparent flight reservations system.
Can you tell me about Instajet?
At its simplest, we can be seen as a matchmaker between passengers and operators, simply connecting them together and not playing off both parties against each other. Our app enables us to provide on the spot pricing for specific routes, dates and aircraft category so a passenger can select the option they want, knowing it comes with a guaranteed fixed price reservation. We then go to our community of operators and select the best one for each flight, based on not only their availability but also whether they offer the newest aircraft or complimentary category upgrades to our passengers.
The bit that is new to operators is the fact that they don’t need to quote for flights: we simply offer them a fixed price for a confirmed pre-paid flight and they let us know their availability. Once they get their head around this new way of operating, while knowing they are still being offered great rates for their services, we can’t get them involved fast enough!
The bit that is new for passengers is that they can just reserve a flight immediately, with the knowledge that the price on the app is the price they pay, with no extras or surprises, and that we take care of the rest, making sure they are booking exactly what they need for their journey, especially important with the increasing number of passengers that are now choosing to fly private, whether in the US, Europe or anywhere else in the world.
We make sure our passengers know everything they need to know, whether they are old hands or new to private flying, from the luggage they can bring, to the exact location they can find their aircraft, and everything in between all the operator then has to do is fulfil the flight based upon the information we have provided them.
The bit that is probably new to everyone is that we operate as a “one flight at a time” business. We do not ask operators or passengers for long term commitments, membership fees, exclusivity or anything that ties them to us beyond their current flight, and they have full and unlimited financial protection for every flight. We simply offer the operator a fixed price flight at exactly £1000 less than the passenger pays, regardless of flight duration or aircraft category, and that’s what we make per flight. It really is that simple, and this simplicity and transparency for all parties is what makes the business both scalable and successful.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea has been around for a while, brought about by our lengthy experience in the aviation world, seeing the frustrations that both passengers and operators have experienced. For passengers, the back and forth with brokers to get the right flight at the right time, or being presented with options that simply don’t meet their needs, or worse, thinking they have got a great flight at a great price only to be stung with huge additional costs after the flight, everything from taxi time to aircraft parking to refuelling to de-icing. We wanted to remove that unpredictability and annoyance factor.
For operators, the wasted time haggling to get business, the administrative overhead, the wasted empty legs which they could usefully have filled – they just want to get on with running their business and flying passengers safely.
It is the combination of technology, timing and team that have made it happen now. The app is just the beginning, providing the industry with an entry point into a new, transparent, direct way of doing business between passengers and operators.
Do you believe Instajet is the future of private air travel?
It is less about us being the future of travel and more about us helping the industry go where it needs to be. Passengers want choice and control, and operators deserve to make money and be profitable and transparency and technology help achieve this.
While technology plays a part however, we don’t think apps will take over, they are an enabling tool, there will always be real people behind Instajet, for instance, as private aviation is intrinsically a personal service, helping people find the best options for their business and personal travel. Our operations team is comprised of qualified aviation professionals who are experienced in working with both passengers and operators to achieve the best experience for everyone involved.
Can you tell me more about your use of QR codes?
We just wanted to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to get visibility of and use the app. A personal QR code, which can be requested from the app, simply makes it easy to refer the app. You can use it as a graphic anywhere you like, for example on business cards or just show someone your phone for them to scan it. Within the app, you can just show someone your QR code for them to scan, or touch a button to share the QR code or even the URL within it as a text-based / WhatsApp message.
The bonus is that referrers can earn from referring the app, and receive £100 for every flight, per every referral, for a year, while simply doing what they do anyhow, engaging with and supporting business travelers and high network individuals, whether within their job or as part of their business.
What has the feedback been like for the app?
People can’t believe how simple it is. This was a deliberate design choice, as we just wanted everyone to be able to access prices for their chosen routes, dates and aircraft category. The fact that you get visibility of pricing without even having to register is a huge part of the transparency we’re trying to achieve.
The majority of people who have visited the app stores have downloaded it, which is a great endorsement of our business model.
What was your career path to your current role?
I’ve been in aviation for my entire professional and personal life, beginning with my early career in the Army Air Corps, moving on to my professional life in aircraft manufacture, operation and management.
I’ve been involved in the growth of many private aviation companies and aviation membership programmes, including as head of aviation at Sunseeker Sales, the superyacht manufacturer sales arm, which included establishing a relationship with NetJets to assist with high-net-worth individual introductions in the European market. I then had a similar role in Bombardier Flexjet at Farnborough Airport, continuing to introduce private aviation to Sunseeker yacht owners.
I’m a qualified pilot myself. I enjoy flying whenever I have time, and I also teach flying. Whatever I did next was always going to be aviation-related, and one of the things that is so special about Instajet is not just it simplicity, but the fact that it’s a business model that is usable throughout the world, so we immediately have global applicability and reach.
Can you describe a typical day at Instajet?
Working on everything related to passengers and their flights, including watching world events and monitoring the weather and air traffic strikes that might affect us on a daily basis, watching oil prices and speaking with operators to gain insight into trends and capacity.
With operators, engaging with them and explaining more about how Instajet really is as simple as it is, and while it’s a new way of working, because they no longer have to quote for flights, they are still running the same business they always were – providing quality flights to passengers.
Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I massively enjoy seeing the team arriving in work and solving complex flight requests and listening to the new clients talk about why they are now using Instajet. One of the things our passengers like, other than everything we’ve already discussed, is that it’s just very simple, they can just start by adding us to their portfolio of travel options, booking their first flight, then their second, and so on, quickly using us for all their flights. But what we don’t ask or need them to do is put all their eggs in a new basket from day one, as we understand that can be a big decision for people when they are used to a certain way of doing things. So we just make it easy for passengers, no fees, no membership, no commitment.
What does the future hold for Instajet?
The platform lends itself to other brands that want to provide a similar, transparent approach to doing business, connecting end users with suppliers, for instance hotels, villas, or other goods and services that business travelers and high net worth individuals need on a regular basis.
For the moment, it’s important to avoid being distracted and remember to focus on what we initially set out to do – making private air travel simple and available, benefiting both the passengers and the operators through a transparent flight reservations system and an operations team that delivers on that by connecting those passengers with the right operators and aircraft.