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By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
JUST over a year after leading British businessman and Port of Andratx home owner Clive Jackson came to the Bulletin with the idea of creating a pioneering private jet share scheme, Victor, takes off today with the online booking site now open to the travelling public who wish to join Victor's community.

Jackson came up with the idea after being faced with the nightmare scenario of the distinct lack of flights from the UK to Palma during the winter and, during the course of developing Victor, he has seen the need for the bespoke service grow across the UK and the private jet share scheme is going to be operating out of 20 regional airports and airfields, including Belfast and Dublin, to each of the Balearics islands to begin with, although Jackson envisages Victor eventually growing into a global operation. It is on schedule to launch the service across Europe at the end of April, transatlantic and Middle East by the end of June and across North America before the end of this year. “Victor is a community of like minded members that wish to travel to and from a particular destination, and are willing to aggregate their needs to share a jet. They then travel at a fraction of the cost of chartering an entire plane,” explains Jackson. “For the first time ever in Europe, Victor allows anyone who becomes a member to charter a private jet and legally sell seats to other registered members. “So for those people that already charter jets, Victor is a no brainer. They can use Victor to get competitive flight quotes from a wide range of operators and when they confirm a booking, they can then publish and sell surplus seats on their aircraft to other members that are following that route and date. “We have developed a smart technology platform, a sort of booking engine that enables our members to see which routes (airports) people are following and to register their interest (we call that watching) for a particular departure date,” he added.

For the moment, the lowest bid which can be made for a seat is 900 pounds and via the booking web site, members can see what flights are operating from where to the Balearics when and, if so choose, make an immediate booking or make a bid for a seat and “watch” developments.

As the flights fill up, the price of the seats will drop. Equally, if the member can not find a flight suitable for his or her travel arrangements, then their travel plans can be posted, a route and time suggested and they too can then watch if there are other members who want to share a private jet on those dates and they too can then start making bids at the lowest price a seat could possibly sell for, if the aircraft flies full.

Obviously, because Jackson has a second home in Majorca, this is where he will be launching the service which has been welcomed by like minded members of the travelling public, local businesses, the tourism industry and the top class hotels and restaurants on the island. “What's really smart about Victor is that it constantly learns and adapts to our community needs. By monitoring the routes members say they prefer, plus the routes and dates that they indicate they want to fly, we can see where and when demand is building up. “If no one puts on a flight on one of these high-demand dates, then Victor will offer up a “fixed price” aircraft where the price per seat is fixed regardless of the number that travel based on a smart predictive algorithm. If there is sufficient interest from the community then their collective buying power will switch the aircraft from stand-by to confirmed – so Victor is really leveraging the collective power of the community to make things happen,” Jackson stressed.

What is more for “time-poor” people, passengers will only have to check in ten minutes before take off and one of Victor's priorities is to have its members flying from their nearest possible airport or airfield, again keeping time wasted on getting to and from airports to a minimum. “I think there are a variety of reasons that make private jet travel appealing, firstly time vs. cost, in Europe you can save more than half a day traveling in each direction,” Jackson explained. “Then there is convenience - you choose when and where and get to avoiding all the unpleasantness and stress of commercial airports. “For time-poor people who are used to dictating the pace and having the ability to set and control their own agenda will enable them to be much more effective in their business and be less stressed when traveling. And of course finally, for many, provided the price is right, then it's an aspirational life style choice,” he added.

Victor already has over 500 members who have been involved in the “closed” development of the project and the website through focus groups here in Palma and in London and now that the site is “live” and open up to the public, Jackson and his team, are confident that membership will rise sharply as we near Easter and the summer season and wealthy home owners or business people realise they will be able to pop down to the Balearics, with minimum stress, when ever they want. www.flyvictor.com launches today.