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Mon 22 Feb 2016 06:59 PM

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Saudi royals said to invest $26m in private jets booking firm

JetSmarter allows users to book private jets from a smartphone in a similar model to ride-hailing service Uber

Saudi royals said to invest $26m in private jets booking firm
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Saudi royals have reportedly invested more than $26 million into a company that lets users book private jets from a smartphone.

JetSmarter, founded by Russian-born Florida resident Sergey Petrossov, said in comments published by Bloomberg that the company would operate on a similar model to Uber Black, the private black car version of Uber Technologies Inc’s ride-hailing service.

Bloomberg reported that the service, which counts rapper Jay-Z as an investor, plans to expand operations in the Middle East, Asia and Europe with the new Saudi funding.

Petrossov said private aircraft aren’t used that much and those empty seats and flights can be offered to travellers for less than the typical price of chartering a jet.

"We thought if we offered that excessive supply to the business-class passengers of regular airlines, it would be a great disruptive service," Petrossov was quoted as saying.

Bloomberg said the company will offer shuttle flights in Europe on routes including London-Paris and Paris-Geneva starting April after organising flights between Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Dubai in December. Petrossov plans to start services in Hong Kong in April and in Moscow early next year.

JetSmarter has 3,100 jets connected to its system. Its app has about 350,000 downloads and the company carried about 35,000 passengers last year with a 135 percent increase in memberships last quarter, Bloomberg added.

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