Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

Bombardier's online charter company Skyjet.com is planning to revolutionise the business aircraft charter market with the official launch next month of two new service programmes. Details of the schemes have been released to Flight International ahead of their introduction to the US charter market. A European launch is lined up for the third quarter of the year.

The first programme, Skyjet Rewards, is designed to encourage the regular use of business aircraft by offering a host of incentives to customers, such as aircraft upgrades, free flights and discounts for Bombardier's Flexjet fractional ownership programme. Unlike existing loyalty programmes, Skyjet Rewards will be restricted to business aircraft-related products and services. The programme is divided into three tiers based on the number of flying hours purchased - silver 10h, gold 25h and platinum 50h. Incentives vary depending on the entry level.

The programme is targeted at current users of business aircraft charters, including flight departments, and at frequent first - and business class - airline customers. Skyjet is confident its new initiative will enhance the profile of the charter industry, and promote Bombardier's growing product line, particularly Flexjet, for which the charter backup fleet is now managed by Skyjet.

Bombardier also plans to promote its customised on-demand travel package, called Personal Fleet, available free of charge to customers making an annual commitment of 50h or more flying time a year. The programme allows customers to select from a core fleet of 230 audited operators and 1,500 jets, based on virtually any criteria, such as on-board amenities, type and age of aircraft. "This fleet will be used to fulfil jet travel itineraries so that each time a customer flies, he will be exactly on the jet he wants," says the Washington DC-based company.

Further, the customer will receive a dedicated account manager to oversee and co-ordinate all aspects of the flight, full service concierge, reduced charter rates and automatic enrollment into the Skyjet Rewards scheme.

Both programmes are designed to promote loyalty amongst Bombardier customers. Its introduction could spawn similar models by established first-tier charter companies such as Raytheon Aircraft Charter and Management, and Executive Jet.

Trevor Cornwell, Skyjet chief executive, says that the US charter market creates around $1.3 billion a year in revenues, but it has the potential to become a $17 billion industry. He adds: "There is a perfect storm of events taking place which is driving the charter market towards this goal."

This, he explains, consists of three factors: the lowest airline service records in history; high standards of service throughout the charter industry; and positive press coverage attributed to business aviation. Cornwell adds: "By providing an exceptional service to customers, Skyjet will help recast the image of charter as a respected and sought-after transport solution for business travellers."

Source: Flight International