Oct. 28, 2020
Even with all the benefits air charter provides, not all operators can or will meet consumers’ specific wants and needs. NBAA’s updated Aircraft Charter Consumer Guide can help individuals and businesses become educated consumers.
The guide has been updated to incorporate the requirements of Department of Transportation (DOT) Part 295 that regulates the air charter brokerage industry, said Tim Sullivan, a member of NBAA’s Part 135 Committee. Historically, “other than some guidance material and occasional enforcement activity, DOT did not regulate brokers until it organized and expanded that guidance into the new 14 CFR 295 regulations that took effect on Feb. 14, 2019,” added committee member Aaron Goerlich,
Last updated in 2016, the guide introduces on-demand air charter to those who need safe, secure and convenient air transportation. It provides the jargon-free information necessary to become an educated consumer who can make informed decisions. Supported by an appendix of categorized questions, customers know what questions to ask when choosing one of the 2,000 Part 135 air charter operators.
Air charter brokers, whose numbers have grown significantly over the last decade, can participate in this effort much in the same way as real estate agents who work for the buyer or seller, said Goerlich. “Typically, air charter brokers represent buyers who need on-demand air transportation,” he said. They can be agents or principals, but Part 295 requires them to make their role clear, and to identify the Part 135 air charter company that will operate each flight before the customer signs the contract.
Before Part 295, customers often first learned of the broker’s role when the invoice arrived. As the guide explains, the Part 295 regulations also address business relationships between brokers and air charter operators and prohibit unfair or deceptive business practices.
Whether selecting a charter operator or a broker, the guide walks consumers through the necessary steps in getting to know the charter operator and encourages them to take the time one would invest when seeking a physician, accountant or attorney.
“It’s not all about price,” said Sullivan. “If you needed heart surgery, you’d probably not choose the cheapest doctor. Follow the guide, do your research and whether you’re working directly or through a broker, make sure you’re working with a reputable, reliable and safe operator.”