Just over eight years ago, leading British businessman Clive Jackson, who owns a home on the island, came to see me at the Bulletin office to discuss an idea of his sparked by the demise of the daily British Midland flight between Heathrow and Palma. Clive was not only disappointed by the scrapping of the route but also saw a gap in the market - a private jet share scheme with a difference.
The plan was to create an online service to offer consumers the ability to easily search for and book private jet charter without the requirement of a middleman. Through the newspaper, the word was put out and Clive began holding a few potential client consultancy meetings, the first being at Marc Fosh’s restaurant, followed by others in London, to test the water and try and gauge demand. The response was overwhelming and he set to work on this new and innovative Majorcan-born project. In August, eight years ago, the private jet charter company Victor officially took to the skies.
Today, Victor, part of the Alyssum Group, is Europe’s second largest and fastest growing on-demand jet charter platform. The company has rewritten the jet charter rule book with a fully-transparent, subscription-free, globally ‘on-demand’ marketplace allowing members to swiftly check pricing options and aircraft specifics before booking the flights they need.
Victor’s unique combination of smart technology and exceptional ‘high touch’ customer service means that its B2C and B2B customers - with access to thousands of aircraft via a global network of over 200 partner operators - are always connected and in control. Victor operates in and out of over 40,000 airports worldwide, many of which are unable to handle commercial airlines.
Victor has a client base which includes private individuals to celebrities, royalty and governments and regularly transports political leaders to and from G7, G8 and Davos meetings, for example. As he has proved with Victor, Clive has always been one step ahead of the game and he has just proved this yet again with an initiative which is going to be a game-changer for the private jet sector and industry as a whole.
On the quiet, Clive, a conscious environmentalist, spent the best part of two years looking into ways of how the private jet industry can offset its carbon footprint. According to opponents to the airline industry, this sector pumps out more carbon emissions than commercial airliners. But, as Clive explained to the Bulletin last week, it’s a numbers game.
"Obviously, the emissions pumped out by a commercial jet per person is much smaller because there are, for example, 300 passengers on board. On a private jet, the average is 2.2 passengers. So looking at it that way, yes, private jets pump out more emissions per passenger. That said, Victor, or rather I, have held up our hands and said ok, it’s time we clean up our act.
"I’ve held endless talks with leading individuals and companies in the fields of the production of biofuels and environmental protection. At the end of the day, we all want the same result - to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change down. I have formed a coalition of like-minded thinkers from all sides of the argument and also put Victor’s own money into offsetting the carbon footprint of our private jet fleet. On July 1 of this year, I went public with Victor’s new series of initiatives aimed at reducing the environmental impact of private aviation and addressing an ‘uncomfortable truth’ in the industry."
Clive explained that Victor has made it compulsory for every chartered flight booked through its digital marketplace to offset 200 per cent of the carbon emissions from the service. Victor estimates this will save approximately 46,000 tonnes of CO2 over the next 12 months and 403,499 tonnes over the next five years - the equivalent of the average personal annual emissions of 81,000 people in the UK.
Emissions for flights booked with Victor will be offset through largely nature-based projects managed by BP Target Neutral, Vertis and South Pole, including reforestation in Brazil and Zambia. The company is also encouraging both individual and corporate clients to contribute out of their own pocket to go beyond the 200 per cent offset through its Unlimited Programme. In addition, Victor is working with flight planning provider RocketRoute to leverage routing algorithms in order to calculate emissions, optimise flight paths and reduce fuel burn.
The company will record the flight plan provided by every operator and provide Victor with an accurate view of actual fuel consumption for carbon credit calculations. Victor says it will compare this with RocketRoute’s optimised paths to identify inefficiencies and potential fuel burn reduction. In short: Victor commits to double offset the emissions of every flight booked as part of a three-pronged climate action plan in a bid to become Europe’s most environmentally responsible private jet charter company.
Let me explain. For example, a return flight from London to Ibiza on a four-seater private jet pumps out a total of 12 tonnes of carbon emissions. What Victor does, to offset that, is purchase double the amount, i.e. 24 tonnes of carbon credit at an average cost of between five and ten euros per tonne from leading, gold-rated, United Nations-approved environmental organisations and carbon capture projects.
"What we are doing is cleaning up after ourselves. If you spill a cup of coffee at home, you don’t just leave it there, you clean it up. I want to drive this message home to my clients, the majority of whom are leading global CEOs and influencers. We’ve created the hashtag #beyondoffset and all Victor flights carry the information the passengers need, so I have a massive captive audience for at least two hours on every flight. In July alone, we operated 436 flights and purchased over 4,000 tonnes of carbon credit, which has been invested in environmental projects, in particular saving the rain forests. The carbon credit offsets from July were the equivalent to a forest 1.8 times the size of Central Park in New York," Clive explained.
"Private jets are always going to be used, but people are thinking twice. Clients are looking at commercial flight options before chartering a private jet when possible. However, for business or security reasons private jets will always be in demand and until we have electric planes in the air, the industry and its clients need to change their mindset. The same approach can be adopted by any industry and that is what I hope to see. I want to see CEOs copying the Victor plan - I don’t mind. Preferably they’ll sign up to the hashtag so we can all come together and form a much broader and stronger coalition, because that way we can get ahead of governments which intend to simply hikes taxes in their attempts to reduce carbon emissions.
"Doing it the Victor way, you know where your money is going. This is a very proactive solution to the extremely serious problem of climate change. Extinction Rebellion is all very good, but what is it actually achieving? Greater awareness, yes, but apart from holding protests, closing down city centres and hurting small businesses, for example, what is this movement physically doing? Not a lot. There is much more which can be done by society as a whole, not just the private jet sector, but as that is my business, I am using it to tackle the problem.
"We are always going to fly. It’s a person’s right to be able to enjoy a holiday; you can’t start talking about stopping people from flying. People can consider whether they really do need to fly all the time and how they do it. If they decide to fly private with Victor, they are now helping to protect and save the environment.
"We’ve flipped the industry on its head and the message is already sinking in. What the commercial sector decides to do remains to be seen. In the meantime, the sooner we all start to prioritise the reduction and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions the better chance we have of preventing a 1.5 degree increase in the Earth’s average temperature."
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