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Advantages of aircraft ownership include flexibility and control over allfactors relating to transportation, including safety, security, comfort, and convenience. Other advantages include tax benefits, such as depreciation.
Traditionally, owning an aircraftrequired hiring an aircraft management company to operateand maintain the aircraft orestablishing your own flightdepartment. Both options includevarying levels of additionalcomplexity and cost.
Speedbird Jets, and its recently launched Speedbird Elite program are changing that narrative.
The Speedbird Elite program is theeasiest and most cost-effective wayto own a private jet.
Lewis Bell, Founderand CEO, on , the creation of Speedbird Jets, and the Elite Program
Q. What are the core valuesof private jet travels?
The core value of private flight istime savings. This begins beforeyou get to the airport as you cantravel on your own schedule froma place convenient to you: whilethere are 500 commercial airports,there are over 5000 executive air-ports. You eliminate check in linesand delays normally associatedwith air travel. In most cases, youcan drive right up to the aircraftand depart immediately. Many private jets fly faster and higher thancommercial airlines, allowing youto fly over weather for a smootherride. In fact, the aircraft we useexclusively, the Cessna Citation X,is one of the fastest business jetsin the world enabling you to leavehome from Los Angeles in themorning, fly to New York to engageprospective or current clients andpeers and be back home to LosAngeles in time for dinner and theoffice the next day.
Flying privately allows you to takecontrol of your scheduleso you can do more quicklyconnect with people face to face,in less time.
Q. What motivated you to start Speedbird Jets and what does it do?
I grew up in Los Angeles under the flight path of LAX airport. Every 30 seconds or so, a lumbering jet would fly over my house as it was preparing to land. As a kid when I was outside, I had to look up to see the plane. I got to the point where I could determine the type of plane strictly by the sound of its engines. Initially, I wanted to become a naval aviator but I was born with less than perfect vision and realized around nine or ten that there was little prospect of becoming a fighter pilot if I didn’t have 20/20 vision. I had little desire to be an airline pilot so as I progressed from high school into college, I did not have a clear direction of what I wanted to do with my life; but I still loved airplanes!
While in college I began working for a freight forwarder and the CEO of that company shared my passion in aviation. In addition to the freight forwarding business the CEO also owned a jet charter brokerage business. Jet charter brokers are essentially private jet travel agents. After ten years of working as a freight forwarder, I began working in the brokerage business and absolutely fell in love with private aviation. The time spent working as a charter broker ignited a desire to start my own jet charter business. I saw a need in the industry to educate prospective customers about the benefits of flying privately and also to offer a stronger value proposition which is something I believed had been essentially ignored due to the high-end nature of private air travel.
When I first came into the industry there was a prevailing attitude on the sales side of "if you have to ask how much it costs to fly, you really could afford to fly" and I thought that was crazy! Successful people are successful because they make sound decisions based on relevant information, and to me cost is relevant information.
I wasn't born into a wealthy family and I never had to run a business but that did not keep me from following my dreams. Through hard work, and a bit of creativity in 1999, I was able acquire a used Learjet 25 and start my business. I began operating from a small two room office adjacent to the runway at Van Nuys airport in Southern California. Fast forward to today and Speedbird Jets is the culmination of two decades of experience within private aviation.
Jot down the perks of Speed-bird Jets and its uniqueness over its competitors.
Speedbird Jets is a boutique organization and our focus is on service and value. To that end, we don’t have a one size fits all approach to our service offerings. Our business is divided into two segments. Our primary customer is the professional charter broker. Brokers act as travel agents for private jet flights. In fact, approximately 60% of all private flights are arranged through brokers. Since we view brokers as our partners and don’t treat broker interactions as transactional , we've built trusted relationships and a solid reputation in that community. I also believe the Speedbird Jets team in the best in the business: our entire operations staff bring a level of experience, skill and dedication to our enterprise that is second to none. Our second segment is servicing clientèle who want to experience the great benefits of owning a private jet but don't want to be saddled with the operational expenses and complexities of ownership. For those folks we have our Speedbird Elite program.
Talk about Speedbird ELITECitation X Program
The Speedbird Elite Program (SBE)is simply the most cost-effectiveand convenient way for someone to own their own private jet. Thefreedom and flexibility that comeswith owning your own airplane is unparalleled. However, aircraftownership can be challenging.Personnel, maintenance, logistics, and regulatory issues make managing a private flight operation afull-time job, and most people lack the time or expertise to effectivelymanage their own plane.
While there are other aviationcompanies that provide aircraftmanagement services, our Eliteprogram takes things to the nextlevel by eliminating all costs ofownership except for fuel andinsurance. For the first time,with the exception of fuel andinsurance all aircraft ownershipexpenses are eliminated. Owninga jet is now no more complicatedthan owning a car.
SBE members have their choice between two of the most popular air craft in business aviation, the Cessna Citation X, or the BombardierChallenger 300. The SBE programoffers full ownership of either oneof these amazing aircraft. Afterpurchasing the aircraft and enrollment into the program, the only expense is fuel and insurance. Thisis a complete turnkey solutionwith no hidden costs or fees. We provide everything you need to beable to get in your jet and fly withno management or membership fees to contend with. SBE makesownership not only easy, but costeffective as well!
Q. How does the Elite Programdiffer from the traditionalaircraft ownership?
Traditional ownership requires anopen checkbook mindset. One isnot only responsible for the cost of acquisition but also all the costs ofoperations, including maintenance,crew salaries, hanger space etc. Speedbird's Elite program takes thatresponsibility off your hands.
Did we miss anything?Kindly mention whatyou want us to highlight.
Yes, I would like to talk about therecent strong demand for flyingprivately which great but hastaxed the entire business segment.Prior to the pandemic, only 1% ofthe people who could afford to flyprivately did so. Over the last twoyears, this number has risen to40% and remained steady. New entrants to private aviation whohave now experienced the timesavings, convenience and safety associated with flying privately forthemselves and their families, wantto continue doing so. This increasein demand has made itsignificantly more challenging tocharter or buy a private aircraft.The effect on our business is thatit has increased our lead time toacquire and deliver aircraft. However, one of the advantages ofour SBE program is that an ownerdoes not have to wait until their aircraft is delivered to startenjoying the benefits ofownership, as they will haveaccess to other aircraft in our fleetimmediately upon joining ourprogram.
Short bio of the leading light
Lewis Bell is business aviation visionary with two decades in business leadership experience. Lewis was anearly adopter of the successful one way/floating fleet business model. He was the founder of the nation’s firstAfrican American jet charter company, Dolphin Air, in 1999. Lewis has taken that rich experience, and theexpertise gained through 25 years in the charter business, to form Speedbird Jets.