The Silicon Review
“We provide on-demand, high-quality, and highly personalized private jet services"
Intense business travel is a common occurrence these days often requiring going to multiple cities on the same day. Current airline schedules and airport delays have made this near impossible hence reducing productivity and requiring more time away from home. Private jet charter flights avoid the problems of waiting in lines and rigid/limited scheduled flight times. Today, a person can simply charter a private jet on their own schedule without having to own a jet.
One such jet charter operator that has grown substantially through best meeting this need is Waltzing Matilda Aviation LLC.(www.waltzingmatildaaviation.org)
Waltzing Matilda Aviation (WMA) is an FAA-licensed private jet charter operator. It began its private operations in June 2008 and has operated thousands of safe and reliable flights since it commenced operations in the Boston area. It both owns and operates its own aircraft as well as managing other owners’ aircraft (that it charters out under its FAA certificate in order to earn these owners revenues from their aircraft). WMA’s aircraft are equipped with the best technology and the latest avionics that allow for landings and takeoffs in lower visibility conditions. WMA brings together a group of aviation professionals that are passionate about flying and bringing the benefits of private flights in corporate jets to individuals who value their time and schedule flexibility.
John Thomas: Interview Highlights
Explain your flexible and customized private jet services in brief, please.
We provide on-demand, high-quality, and highly personalized private jet charter services. We are based out of Hanscom/Bedford Airport, Massachusetts and most of our employees (including our pilots) have been serving the corporate jet market in the Boston area for more than 20 years.
What kind of challenges did you face in your initial years?
This industry is highly regulated. The main issue was the time it took to pass through the regulatory hurdles. Time is money and we threw a lot of resources at making sure we always operated at the highest standards and were highly responsive towards the demands of the regulators.
Explain the current scenario of the private jet industry and why do you think the demand for customized aviation services is increasing?
Airline consolidation in the US has seen a dramatic reduction in services to secondary cities many of which are still important business centers. In addition to that, commercial airport service levels have declined and are unlikely to improve. Private jet charter services overcome all of this so that customers can fly directly to their destinations on their own schedule with flexibility and no wasted airport/connecting time. Additionally, with the advent of COVID-19, travelers want to avoid congested commercial airports and airlines and fly either by themselves or in smaller groups of known acquaintances.
How efficient are your services as compared to owning a private jet?
Owning a private jet sets you back by at least $3 million with annual fixed costs exceeding $500,000. Chartering is a lot more cost-efficient if you are flying less than 100 hours per year. Chartering also gives you the flexibility to vary the type of jet you use depending on the specific mission of your trip. Chartering also overcomes the headaches of employing (hard to come by) pilots, engineers, etc. Besides, by chartering with a licensed operator you are in safe hands – vetted by the FAA and other 3rd parties Quality Assurance groups.
Are you equipped with the latest technology to ensure the safety of your passengers onboard? How do you manage to make sure you stick to your schedule when the weather conditions are not optimal?
We have the latest technology in our aircraft that enables landing in the most inclement weather. In December 2018, we moved to Hanscom/Bedford Airport which is the main corporate aviation airport in the Boston area that has multiple runways allowing for low visibility operations and the best snow removal services making it the most reliable airport in the Boston area.
Artificial Intelligence is the latest buzzword. Do you think Artificial Intelligence has a place in your industry?
Yes, I am on the board for PASSUR Aerospace that is a leader in the use of AI and its applications in aviation operations. Among other services, PASSUR provides the most accurate predictions of when the aircraft will arrive at its destination based on the prevailing conditions with the incorporation of AI. For corporate aviation where passengers are highly time-sensitive, this provides greater schedule certainty and greater service to the passengers.
There are other reputed private jet agencies in the market. How do you set yourself apart from your competitors?
There are a few large players but this is a highly personalized industry and passengers want the personal touch. They want the operator to know them and their individual needs. They want to recognize familiar pilots when they turn up for a flight. Larger operators cannot provide the same level of personalized services and level of recognition to regular passengers. We provide the best of both worlds- through our network, experience, and expertise we have been able to arrange the best deals for fuel, FBO services, maintenance, etc. yet small enough to provide truly personalized service
What plans do you have for the growth of your company?
Given our recent growth, we believe we can grow the company by taking on additional aircraft under management. We have the established infrastructure to grow, but importantly, maintain the high level of personalized service that we have become known for. This could see us grow outside the Boston area to manage aircraft in other locations around the US.
John Thomas: A Formidable Leader
John Thomas, Founder, serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Waltzing Matilda Aviation LLC. Mr. Thomas has been in the aviation industry for 40+ years. He was a senior advisor to many of the world’s leading airlines for over 25 years such as Delta, United, JetBlue, Alaska, LATAM, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and Virgin Atlantic. Most recently he was CEO of Virgin Australia Airlines. He now sits on the board of directors of Sky Service, Icelandair, and PASSUR Aerospace.
“We have established the infrastructure to grow, but importantly, maintain the high level of personalized service that we have become known for. This could see us grow outside the Boston area to manage aircraft in other locations around the US.”