““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
PrivatAir To Introduce New Charter Program
Swiss-based aircraft operator PrivatAir is preparing for the full launch of its Select Membership block charter program late this year in the U.S. and expects to extend it to European customers in early 2008. PrivatAir has been quietly offering the program to some U.S. clients over the past two years, during which time it has refined pricing and the service structure. Under Select Membership, customers place cash deposits starting at $100,000 in an escrow account. Funds are used to pay for occupied flight hours in various aircraft categories at guaranteed rates and with assured availability. Clients may leave the program at any time, in which case all remaining monies are refunded.
"The key difference with this product [compared with traditional block charter and fractional ownership] is that customers don't have to invest capital and they don't have to commit to a specific number of hours that have to be used within a specific period," said PrivatAir chief executive Greg Thomas. When the company activates the program in Europe, it expects to see "interchangeability" of services for customers on both sides of the Atlantic.