The friendly (private) skies

Learjet 40XR005. Courtesy Bombardier Inc.
Magellan Jets takes the hassle out of flying with its customizable private planes for business types and vacationers alike.

It’s cold outside.

The new year initiates a barren stretch of winter when, to escape the monotonous gloom, our heads float to the clouds — or above them — soaring away in a jet to a beach somewhere warm. In luxury.

For the bona fide jetsetters, charter flight companies such as Boston-based Magellan Jets have made the plane-procuring process as easy as pie — in the sky. Still, there’s confusion among those looking to book a holiday in the sun and sand.  The steel drums of the Caribbean may be calling, but vacationers remain reticent to commit.  

The majority of the (more than 7,000) islands that make up the Caribbean are ready for business and fighting the perception that the entire region has been affected by devastating hurricanes. 

 “This year, travel to the islands is down because of the severity of the damage,” says Magellan Jets’ vice president Greg Belezerian, who’s been with the company since its inception in 2008.

There can be little doubt, however, that making or keeping travel plans to any of the unaffected islands will have a beneficial economic effect on the region as a whole.

In 2016, travel and tourism added $56.4 billion to the Caribbean’s GDP, according to The World Travel and Tourism Council. That’s 14.9 percent. But expected growth for 2017 doesn’t seem attainable as of now. 

To help travelers pull the trigger, Magellan has published the top places their customers are booking for peak season 2018. They’ve listed Anguilla, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, St. Kitts, Turks and Caicos and the Cayman Islands as their top seven destinations.

Other safe bets for wary travelers include Jamaica, Curacao, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and Aruba.  

To target their customer base, Magellan’s top pick is the island of Canouan, located in St. Vincent and the Grenadines — and only accessible by private jet. Canouan is tiny (5 square miles in size) and located 20 minutes from Barbados. It’s an exclusive world of hidden coves, white sand beaches, a barrier reef and all the things that lure us to the West Indies. 

Interior of global 5000. Courtesy Bombardier Inc.

With Magellan — named after the Portuguese explorer who discovered the Pacific Ocean — getting there is half the fun. Founded by Joshua Hebert and Anthony Tivnan, the charter service offers customizable membership so that you and your curated cast of guests can walk straight off the tarmac and into a luxury cabin that beats first class. An aviation consultant can customize your flight with choices that include everything from movie screens to beds to pet- friendly options and even a personalized flight path.

As aviation brokers, Magellan has access to a global network of airports and a selection of aircraft that range from four-seat prop planes to large capacity airliners or multiple flying options on the same day.

The company has been recommended by “Shark Tank” star Robert Herjavec. While Herjavec has his own plane, he still sees value in membership with a charter company. Indeed, Magellan says its primary customer is someone who owns a plane or is part of a fractional program already.

“Everyone who owns an aircraft has that aircraft go down for maintenance,” Belezerian says. “And a lot of owners have business partners, which means if both partners need the aircraft the same date, then they could use our help. There are countless scenarios where having access to more than just one aircraft… is necessary to do business.”

In response to an uptick in business travel among customers, Magellan has launched a new Corporate Membership Program.

“Business travel has been great, because the economy is improving,” Belezerian says. “We have been on a steady growth pattern of about 35 to 40 percent per year for the past three years.”

Private jets are a preferred way to travel among pro-sports teams, entertainers, their entourages and businesses that don’t want to lose precious time or the competitive advantage in an economy that’s become so on-demand.

Members in Magellan can choose their experience by the hours they want to fly, the type and size of plane they need and custom add-ons like car service, Wi-Fi Jet Cards and inflight business centers. 

“Technology has definitely changed the way we do business and opened the market to everyone,” Belezerian says.

“Everyone” may be a stretch. But when taking to the sky for business or pleasure, let’s face it, who wants to cram into coach?

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