A privately owned aircraft is just a tap away for anyone who can afford a $1 million jet

As I chatted over a grilled, berry lemonade at the franks in a can with a gold man in front of me in the bustling daily shuttle, he said, “You know I had a dream about just this happening, me and your son flying a commercial jet from here to Reagan [National Airport].”

Hear me: my son. Sure, I shared that dream, but I never imagined that it would be possible with technology like this: a fully packed, re-sellable, airport-ready platform for flying your own private jet to wherever you want to go. The platform, called TapAir, is coming to Dulles Airport this week and will become operational at New York’s LaGuardia Airport next month.

Together with the JetServe airport technology platform that will power both outlets and fuel-pump sales for TapAir, TapAir can be the ticket for small owners to start owning air charters, sometimes called executive jets, for the first time.

As CEO Felix Schulter tells it, people have built private jet charters like business charters, but so far not so well, with outdated technology, poor customer service and unreliable availability.

TapAir, by contrast, is easy and personal, offering sleek jet engines, dual outlets in both front and back of the aircraft, a complete fueling kit and a maintenance lockbox. It’s a no-risk proposition for a small charter business owner who can afford to spend a few million dollars.

Schulter and his team received a lot of press early on after the website went live, but have grown quieter since the day the company debuted, apparently concerned about perceptions of professionalization and turning small business owners into professional air-cargo pilots.

Reasons to fly big

With demand expected to more than double in the next five years, the market for hire of small business charters is expected to be lucrative. According to aircraft consultant FlightGlobal, the demand in the under-1,000-seat category is expected to more than double between 2016 and 2021. Within the subset of $1 million and over per-seat-passenger segment, demand is expected to jump by 39 percent over the same time period.

Whether going small or big, chartering has the advantage of controlling the business in house. The owner can do anything from changing your client’s name to choosing the right aircraft to the right flight. Air travel, especially nonstop air travel, is particularly useful for those who live in the same area.

Enter jet.js, an online platform designed specifically for chartering jet flights, based on a free and easy online flight booking system. It can help owners save money on expenses including jet fuel and seatmates.

Since he founded Jet.js in 2017, Schulter has been buying jets in bulk, selling them and repurposing the plane to sell to owners in his own in-house fleet and has been shopping to several small charter owners who are in a position to start their own charters.

Fully equipped, owners can just write the check and the Jet.js platform helps them do so — in eight minutes. The company is now accepting reservations from small charter owners and plans to expand service to other business aircraft flying in and out of all airports in New York and Dulles, including Anchorage and Washington Dulles International Airport.

By the way, in the spirit of full disclosure, the transportation editor is quite likely tapping the freshly assembled 16-ounce stainless steel chef’s peel while playing guitar in his Airstream trailer that serves as our office for family events, conferences and camping trips. Guess we’re going to be splurging on breakfast out this week.

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