Bliss Jet, Gulfstream 450
One to watch
Three reasons you should be watching them
Bliss Jet is offering a brand-new business model to the aviation industry
For the first time, passengers can buy a seat on a business jet rather than chartering a whole aircraft
This is the most convenient and glamourous way to fly transatlantic since Concord
Company: Bliss Jet
What it does, in a sentence: Offers weekly shared private jet service between London and New York City
Founded: [date, location]: Formed February 2016, but researched for a year prior.
Founder/s: David Rimmer
Size of team: 10
Your name and role: David Rimmer, President and CEO
What problem are you trying to solve?
Bliss Jet will eliminate the wasted time and poor service associated with flying scheduled airlines between London and New York. Business and leisure travellers will save up to four hours or more door-to-door in each direction. We enable this with the use of discreet and comfortable private terminals, efficient and respectful security clearance, a minimum of two Border Patrol inspectors greeting every flight, planeside baggage claim and the ability of our aircraft to arrive just steps from your waiting car. Not since Concorde has there been a faster or more refined way to fly.
How big is the market – and how much of it do you think you can own?
The London–New York route has a very robust market with more than 800,000 seats available annually in first and business class, which usually sell out. To succeed we only need 1,000 passengers each year. To put it in context, that’s 0.125% of the existing market share.
How do you make money?
Currently we don’t, as we’re yet to commence operations, but once we begin flying our revenue will come from the sale of individual seats. When you consider that whole aircraft charter can cost up to $150,000, $9,995 each way is a good value.
Who’s on your team that makes you think you can do this?
Our senior leadership team includes Omar Diaz and Toni Drummond, both highly accomplished private aviation executives and entrepreneurs. Toni is focused on customer satisfaction and vendor relations, while Omar and I spend most of our time meeting with potential clients. Our sales effort in London is led by Aiden
Walsh, La Compagnie’s former country manager in the UK. Aiden has a deep insight into the competitive landscape for premium cabin travellers on our route and extensive connections in that market.
Who’s bankrolling you?
Private investors who appreciate the benefits of private jet travel and the challenges of flying on scheduled airlines. They are very successful in their fields and recognise the potential in opening this unique and transformative business.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure that kind of finance?
Choosing the right investors is crucial. They should be knowledgeable, supportive and patient, and they should share your passion for the business. Although they are investing in your vision, be mindful of the fact they are also investing in you and their belief in your ability to execute. The relationship should be symbiotic and respectful – but an entrepreneur should always be open to new ideas and input, especially from those who make it financially possible.
What do you believe the key to growing this business is? Following through on our promise to be reliable and to deliver a level of service that is unsurpassed and consistent. Fortunately, our team is well-versed in satisfying a clientele with very high expectations, including business and political leaders, members of royalty, celebrities and ultra high-net-worth individuals. Unlike the scheduled airlines, we will never grow too big to care about the needs and preferences of every individual we fly.
What metrics do you look at every day?
The metrics we track every day are passenger loads and fares between New York and London. While we will not compete directly every time the scheduled airlines cut fares, we are mindful of the fact that our wealthiest clients are still cost conscious. To attract their business, we must know our competition intimately and offer value to our passengers.
What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far?
The value of patience, positivity and flexibility. Launching a disruptive concept takes time and attracts a great deal of ‘second guessing’ from people who are convinced they know better. We’ve grown to be open to constructive input while staying above negative people who seem to relish tearing other people down.
What’s been your biggest mistake so far? It’s been rushing to market, definitely. The moment we received regulatory approval in Spring 2016 we announced our plans, without having all the pieces in place. We take a much more deliberate approach now and our product has evolved for the better. One example is the choice of LaGuardia Airport for our service, which was not in our original plans. This alone is revolutionary, and had we waited it would have featured in our initial announcements.
What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead?
I expect some uncertainty among the scheduled airlines serving the London–New York market. Fares have been all over the map – BA recently slashed its popular London City–JFK service and new heavily discounted carriers such as Norwegian have entered the fray. Brexit and Trump have both been used as excuses, but I don’t buy into those fears. This is an extremely lucrative market and we’re very optimistic about its continued strength.
Which London start-up/s are you watching, and why? I’m following Wheels Up and Surf Air very closely. Both companies will soon be launching in the UK after offering very successful services in the US. We think Bliss Jet is complementary to what they do and I am hopeful we will have the opportunity to work with both.