x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Private jet company targets Gulf by selling leftover one-way trips

LunaJets offers discount flights on "empty legs" of private jet charters, hoping to hang on to wealthy customers hit by the credit crunch.

DUBAI // A company offering private jet flights from the Emirates says business is booming despite the global financial slowdown. LunaJets offers discount flights on "empty legs" of private jet charters, those trips left over after one-way excursions, at a fraction of the original price. The company's new website matches clients with operators providing the empty leg routes.

LunaJets are opening an office in Dubai next year and at this week's Middle East Business Aviation exhibition in Dubai, the company signed a deal with Empire Aviation Group, the leading private jet operator in the region. The company already has many partners in the region including Gulf Jet, Royal Jet (Abu Dhabi), Infinity Aviation and Prestige Jet. The Middle East and Gulf region is now one of the company's major target markets, alongside Russia, the US and Europe.

Eymeric Segard, the founder of LunaJets, said: "People who couldn't quite afford to upgrade from first class to private jets can now afford to make that jump while people hit by the credit crunch and would have had to downgrade to first class, can also now afford to stay in this category of travel. It's about catching the downgraders. "We also hope that once people from first class have upgraded, it will be hard for them to go back," said Eymeric Segard, CEO and founder of LunaJets.

"Empty leg" travel from London to Dubai costs about ?25,000 (Dh116,000) instead of ?100,000 (Dh464,000). Customers who register on the LunaJets website log their favourite routes and are e-mailed when flights become available. Since the company opened earlier this year, it has acquired a database of 2,000 clients and about 150 operators. "Right now, this region is a great focus for us. It's not been as affected by the credit crunch and still has a healthier economy than many places around the world," Mr Segard said. "People are trying to cut costs across the board, however high up the financial scale they are. People who can no longer afford private jets don't have to go back to commercial."

In August, the company had a "rush" on for customers coming back to the Emirates in time for Ramadan. "The privacy which travelling on private jets allows is incomparable to anything which commercial flights can offer," Mr Segard said. "You can transport your meeting room to the aircraft. People love the time they save. Instead of waiting for hours during check-in time, they can get from their car to the plane in 10 minutes."

@Email:mswan@thenational.ae