Two online charter pioneers have unveiled initiatives designed to expand business aircraft charter useage in the USA and bring the fledgling industry into the mainstream market. has launched its software-based Alliance partnership programme, which it anticipates will eliminate many of the headaches associated with aircraft availability as well as create and satisfy demand for online charter.

President Bob McBride says that "the [free] software enables flights to be assigned, directed and managed on a single channel from anywhere in the world. We act as the electronic distributor of this information from our partners [the operators] to the end user."

Using Alliance, charter providers can schedule aircraft and crews, dispatch, follow and log flights, and create invoices and reports via the Internet. Operators can also withhold confidential information and determine which aircraft are available for charter. McBride explains: "As soon as operators enter schedule and other fleet-related information it becomes available electronically to our database, and is then available to the customer. The programme offers a seamless, simple and very effective solution to booking aircraft charter on line."

The software will be tested by two FlightTime Alliance partners early next year and will become widely available at the end of the first quarter. "We aim to sign up as many Wyvern [safety] audited operators as we can," says McBride. "Through our initiatives on the supply and demand side, we are working to become the largest distribution channel for charter operators and the most reliable source of charter pricing and information for travellers."

FlightTime has also launched Freedom Plan, a charter programme under which aircraft are sold in blocks of 25h, rising to a maximum of 300h a year. Charter customers pay an advance membership fee, ranging from $35,000 for a "small jet" to $119,000 for a large aircraft. A variable "competitive" occupied hourly fee is also levied.

Separately, Bombardier's new subsidiary has unveiled a loyalty programme for charter customers. The SkyDollars programme will be formally introduced this quarter. Although details have not been disclosed, SkyDollars is known to be based on airline frequent-flyer programmes, enabling customers to earn credits each time they charter an aircraft. These can be used as discounts on future charters or to upgrade to a widebody business jet. SkyDollars may also be traded against Flexjet fractional ownership shares "and a range of Bombardier products and services", says Skyjet.

Bombardier has also launched an e-business initiative for the first quarter of next year, offering "virtually every aspect of the company's corporate activities" online.

Source: Flight International