Business Aviation Charter: Reinventing Booking

Helping grow access to General Aviation, one business at a time...

Dave Higdon  |  26th August 2016
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Dave Higdon
Dave Higdon

Dave Higdon is a highly respected, NBAA Gold Wing award-winning aviation journalist who has covered all...

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In 2013 Rob Rakic and partners launched an innovative concept called OpenAirplane that simplified GA aircraft rental. Now he's back to launch one for aircraft charter...

With a single check-out at an OpenAirplane location a pilot is able walk into that location and strap into a rental airplane of the type covered by the initial check-out. It's something akin to car rental. The pilot shows their credentials; books their rental; and goes – without a repeat check flight at every location as the Hobb's meter clicks off the bucks. Book online and your aircraft will be waiting for you upon arrival.

The concept has caught on. At launch OpenAirplane had six locations and a handful of aircraft available. As of my camp-fireside conversation with Rakic at AirVenture last month the number of locations was about to break 100 with more than 350 aircraft available to members. And now Rakic's attention is focusing on the charter market. Again, he's targeting what he calls “a broken system” with his new venture: FlyOtto…

Simple, Straight-Forward & User-Friendly

FlyOtto exhibited at AirVenture and started spreading the word about how it differs from the use of charter brokers. Almost anyone tasked with booking a charter knows the process involves some complexity. Shopping charter trip costs is time-intensive and comparisons that are not always apples-to-apples.

Normally, a charter client trying to book a trip winds-up with multiple brokers involved, Rakic observed. “The brokers seek quotes from various providers. They’re always after the lowest cost, and too often the client gets the cheapest, oldest airplane available – the cheapest they can afford.

“It's a horrible model, a lousy way to do business,” Rakic summarized.“We want to simplify and democratize charter bookings with a new process."

The traveler visits; fills in one space labeled ‘pick me up from’ and a second tagged ‘fly me to’; clicks the ‘Search Now’ button; and waits for FlyOtto to search its Part 135 member operators. The site delivers a list showing available trips, aircraft types, travel time and the one-way fee for each. The client chooses, confirms the booking and the trip is on. Return bookings are equally simple.

The charter buyer pays no fees: FlyOtto charges no membership dues and the Part 135 operator pays nothing to list with FlyOtto. Payment is only made when a client confirms a trip.

There are Caveats

For the time being FlyOtto offers no jets. “We may grow into that over time,” Rakic told AvBuyer. “Right now we're after the trips that people drive four, five, six hours to make.” That means anything from a high-performance piston single to twin turboprops and helicopters. “That's the kind of charter services most people need,” Rakic concludes.

Nevertheless, FlyOtto can connect a client to a charter between any two airports. “We can use every public airport in the system,” he highlights.

Access to GA, One Business at a Time...

Rod Rakic has started two new aviation businesses based on inventing new models for attracting clients – one is aimed at modernizing aircraft rental practices for existing pilots, and another at reinventing the charter-booking business.

And it's another example of new thinking in Business Aviation that, if as successful as OpenAirplane, can't help but draw more people into using business aircraft for their travel needs, getting them out of their cars – and home again, the same day, where and when they want.

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