Aviation: Alternative Approach
Count XOJet among the private-aviation companies that appear to have moved past the economic crisis. Indeed, the San Francisco–based charter provider, which has been in business since 2006, seems to be thriving. XOJet reports that its revenues grew by 40 percent from 2010 to 2011. Last year, it increased its U.S. fleet size from 24 to 40, ordered a dozen new Hawker 800XP jets, and hired more than 50 additional pilots. And in December, the company opened a new operations center in Sacramento, Calif.
The 22,000-square-foot facility houses XOJet’s flight planners and dispatchers, crew schedulers, weather trackers, and customer-service department. The center is equipped with a wall of flight-tracking video screens and other state-of-the art technologies. According to Dave Cox, XOJet’s chief operating officer, having everyone under the same roof enables the company to identify potential constraints on the fleet and its flight schedules and to respond accordingly. "Efficiency is lack of wasted movement," says Cox, "and if you’re on the customer end, what that looks like is precision." Cox links the company’s growth to that precision and to its competitive and flexible pricing, reliable customer service, and superlative safety record. Early this year, the aviation-industry auditing service ARG/US gave XOJet the highest rating in all 12 of its safety categories, including historical safety ratings, aircraft and pilot background checks, maintenance processes, and an on-site safety audit.
Clients can feel safe, and they can feel special: XOJet’s customer-service representatives often know clients’ birthdays and the names of their children and pets, and the company is prepared to fulfill any reasonable request. "We had a client who wanted to get picked up after a flight to Morocco in a red Mercedes S-Class with a tan interior," says Cox, adding that the company did provide such a car.
XOJet owns its fleet of Bombardier Challenger 300 and Cessna Citation X super-midsize jets, and all of the jets are similarly furnished and equipped. "Every time you board any of our jets, you know how everything is set up and where everything is," says Cox. Carrying as many as nine passengers, these aircraft can make coast-to-coast trips without refueling. The 12 Hawker 800XP models that XOJet purchased in the fall are midsize aircraft that burn less fuel than do the fleet’s larger jets and thus will enable the company to fly shorter trips more cost-effectively.
XOJet offers fixed-priced charter rates that start at $19,000 for a one-way coast-to-coast flight. Discounted rates are available to clients who are flexible about when they depart and what type of aircraft they fly. The company’s offerings also include a program tailored to clients who frequently fly coast-to-coast and a membership program through which clients purchase set numbers of flight hours, which do not expire and are fully refundable. These members are guaranteed access to aircraft and are assigned individual customer-service agents who book flights, arrange catering, and set them up with ground transportation—maybe even a red Mercedes.
XOJET, 650.676.4700, www.xojet.com