Private Aviation

How a smoother booking process can reduce empty leg flights

Jasleen Mann finds out how TailHail hopes to modernise the private booking system through its new platform, reducing the number of empty leg flights in the private aviation sector in the process.

Image: copyright

Empty leg and repositioning flights have long been a concern for the aviation industry – including in the private jet sector. Private jet hailing app TailHail aims to utilise technology to provide passengers with access to empty leg flights, limiting resource wastage. 

Regulations requiring UK airlines to use their airport slots for a minimum of 80% of the time were suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic, to preserve some competition amidst restrictions. However, TailHail suggests that data has shown nearly 14,500 empty/near empty flights went ahead between 2020 and 2021. 

James Moon, founder and chief aviation officer of TailHail, says: “With all the technology we have been creating, it has been addressing the pain points that currently exist in the sector from an operator's point of view and user point of view. 

“It is clear that there are a lot of inefficiencies that exist, such as aircraft flying empty, which is not ideal given the current climate, and that is what we have been focusing on.”

Pain-free private jet booking

TailHail’s new website launched in April, and a new app followed in early May, with the aim of overcoming issues associated with booking flights within the private aviation sector. 

“At the moment the industry is narrow in terms of what is available. What we are trying to bring to market is a variety of options. Choice is a core principle that we are working on,” says Moon. 

TailHail aims for bookings of private jets to be completed quickly, within seconds or minutes, to make the process less time consuming for travellers. The platform would handle the bookings digitally, as opposed to the current manual process. 

With TailHail, once a flight request is submitted, the user will be matched to an approved aircraft. The platform offers users the opportunity to view more aircraft than they would if they were using a broker.

There are a lot of companies who claim to be the Uber of aviation, but they do not have the technology to back it up.

TailHail also expects that by filling seats on empty leg flights, rather than by a direct charter, the carbon footprint of each flight will be minimised. 

“What we are doing is putting it in the digital world, making it easier to understand and making it transparent,” says Moon. 

With a geolocating feature, in future TailHail expects to provide users with private flight-sharing opportunities near their location. The app will help operators push surplus capacity, while dealing with on demand charter flight requests. 

“Our sector has been left behind and we are bringing new technology to market that will be constantly evolving. There are a lot of companies who claim to be the Uber of aviation, but they do not have the technology to back it up,” adds Moon.

Making private flights more affordable with flight-sharing

Due to concerns surrounding safety and hygiene, raised in response the pandemic, there has been in an increase in first time private aviation users.  
The private aviation sector can benefit from the fact that while confidence in travel is growing, people remain cautious and prefer to avoid crowds. 

“Through our platform and unique algorithm users will be able to see a wide range of aircraft that match their profile,” explains Moon.  

“One of our key findings is that users think they have to fly from one of the big airports that are nearby, but private aviation offers the chance to fly from a different airport, which may be closer to their departure point. 

“In the US, commercial airlines serve 500 airports but private aviation can reach 5,000. In the UK, private aviation is seen as luxury, but elsewhere it is seen as a necessity.”

A number of people we have spoken to are sometimes surprised that they can afford to fly private.

TailHail expects to release a flight-sharing functionality soon, which could lower the price of flying privately and has the benefit of building a community within the sector. 

“Flight-sharing is prevalent in the US but not here in the UK, it has not been explored properly. We feel we can capitalise on a market that is there to be taken,” Moon explains. “There is a lack of understanding here. A number of people we have spoken to are sometimes surprised that they can afford to fly private.  

“First-class flyers and business class flyers would be interested, but the current processes are off-putting. It’s not like booking an airline ticket, and we want to make it that simple through our platform.”