Look out, John Kerry: Personal jets are no longer for the uber elite. On Monday, April 21, XO, a worldwide private flight charter company, announced eye-popping growth over the last year and through 2021’s first quarter. Any way you slice the numbers, more guys are flying private than ever before.
“Our success is directly related to XO’s enhanced digital marketplace, its unrivaled on-demand flight accessibility, and innovative crowd-sourcing technology that offers clients the ability to browse and book flights within seconds,” said Rajat Khurana, Chief Commercial Officer of XO, in the release.
As Khurana alluded, the brilliance of XO is in opening up a fleet of private jets — and myriad flight options — to the everyman through an online site and a sister app. Got a bachelor party looking for closing day at Vail Resorts? A killer swell hitting Western Oz? Or just an impulsive weekend with the Mr. or Mrs. in Miami? With XO, it’s as easy as hailing an Uber. Whether you’re looking to charter an entire jet or just stow away in an individual seat with a group of like-minded travelers, its options allow an elevated air experience that was once reserved for presidential candidates and Fortune 500 CEOs.
XO’s deposit membership program, which offers perks to frequent users, has boomed over the last 12 months, with a 298% year-over-year increase, indicating that many preferred its relaxed experience to the harried regular airport in the time of coronavirus. Individual seat sales, which the company refers to as shared flight revenue (think splitting a cab), were also up 225% year-over-year in March, buoyed by a 39% quarter-to-quarter increase from 2020 Q4 to the first quarter of 2021.
But maybe the most enlightening stats the company released are where its elite travelers are headed. While the Northeast and West coasts remain under restrictions, South Florida has maintained its relaxed regulations and vibrant nightlife throughout the pandemic, and it became the company’s top destination, followed by the business hubs of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston. Family travel between New York and South Florida also jumped, showing a 25-percent gain from the first quarter of 2020 to the end of Q1 2021. Shared flights and charter flights between the two destinations also boasted significant growth. (It turns out that a comedy club owner was just one of many New Yorkers fleeing to Florida.)
Will a return to normal contract XO’s triple-digit growth? Or will the rise of private air travel only increase, becoming a new normal for guys searching for a new experience? To its credit, Khurana and Co. are betting on the latter. In response to its growth over the last year, the company is only increasing its focus on its months-old app for even easier bookings. App users are guaranteed availability in booking full private charters or single shared seats on an existing flight, further emphasizing the company’s belief in the power of the smartphone in modern business. So if we’re looking to blow some Biden Bucks and want the ultimate in luxury travel, there’s no beating a private flight. Next stop: the Apple App Store or Google Play marketplace.
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