Today, thousands of individuals and businesses depend on air charter to get where they’re going. Jet charter is one of the best ways to get from point A to point B, and it has remained popular ever since it was first invented. Here’s the history of the jet charter and how it has developed over the years.
Designed to Save Money
Many people think of a jet charter as just a very expensive and luxurious way of traveling. While that’s not true even today, it was even less true when private charter flights were first invented. Imagine a world where there are no computers, fax machines, or other instantaneous ways of sending documents and large amounts of information from one end of the country to the other. There are telephones, but the telephones don’t always provide the best sound and there’s no way of seeing the other person’s face.
In this situation, it’s very important to be able to travel and talk to business partners face-to-face. But you also have to imagine a world in which there are very few commercial flights, at least relative to today. There are fewer flights, and there are fewer airports, as well.
To keep up good business relations, many companies had to have a private jet. This is expensive, so the jet charter was invented as a way for companies to enjoy the convenience of being able to take a flight to the other side of the country without the expense of maintaining a private aircraft.
When Did It All Start?
Airline charter first became popular in the 1940s after World War II. There were plenty of leftover aircraft from the war and many more pilots qualified to fly them than the commercial airlines could possibly employ. The chartered flight really came into its own in the 1960s when the first private jets were invented. The first private jet charter was a Learjet 23.
This fine aircraft was designed and modeled after a Swiss jet fighter, and the Learjet quickly became popular for its performance and look.
New Kids on the Block
The success of the Learjet 23 spurred design and innovation by many other aviation companies and manufacturers. Now, instead of using modified military aircraft for business jet charter, the aviation industry was developing jets specifically designed for business people. They were built, with comfort and luxury in mind so that their clients could work or rest on a long trip. Another innovation was to increase the size of the available jets as it became common for more than one or two people to take a business jet charter.
Getting The Word Out
One thing that held back the charter jet industry in the first few decades was the inability to connect with their customers. There wasn’t a great way to advertise prior to the 1990s and most of these aviation companies relied on the Yellow Pages or word-of-mouth advertisement in order to reach the business people who used their services.
At the same time, businesses could not easily find jet charters, and they would have to call each individual charter to find out if they had availability and room for the particular flight the business needed to make. What had once been a great idea, because it spared businesses having to own and maintain their own jets, now had to compete with an increasing commercial jet market that was anxiously developing their business class in order to reach out to corporate customers.
The Information Age
The coming of the Internet revolutionized the entire industry. It suddenly became possible to advertise across the country. Over time, one could easily find out exactly what charter companies were in your area, what type of jets they had, and what availability they had for any day or flight plan.
This led to the development of jet charter brokers who could help business people find the best deal while also helping charter owners keep their planes full. It also saw the rise of fractional ownership and membership programs that made it easier to book a flight.
Jet charter has come a long way since the 1940s. Only time will tell what the next development will be.