HOUSTON — A new aircraft rental website aims to bring the power of the sharing economy to the general aviation industry.
With the launch of Rent-A-Plane.com, founder and president Jim Weldon said he hopes to create a better way for owners to rent their aircraft to offset costs and for potential renters to find the ideal aircraft to meet their needs.
“Right now, owners have very few options when it comes to renting their plane — co-ownership, a leaseback situation, or a service that takes a healthy percentage of any rental income are the only real options,” Weldon said.
“Each of these comes with its own set of problems,” he noted. “For example, with co-ownership you might have issues like scheduling conflicts, maintenance disagreements, and financial disputes are not uncommon. Complications can arise when someone wants to sell their share of the aircraft.”
“In a leaseback agreement, owners essentially lose control of their aircraft and find themselves having to schedule time like everyone else,” he continued. “They no longer enjoy the freedom that is such a big part of private aviation. And it’s the same way with maintenance. Owners lose control, except when it comes to footing the bills, which can run high due to the extreme value-killing wear and tear aircraft suffer when owners enter into leaseback agreements.”
“Add to that, with a leaseback, owners typically get less than half the rental rate being charged, so owners don’t see the income they’re expecting. That’s a major advantage we have at Rent-A-Plane.com. Not only do our members maintain control over their aircraft, they get 100% of their rental fees.”
“For the pilot who takes advantage of our single plane free listing, we believe that our model based on the sharing economy hits that sweet spot between sole ownership and leasing back: When it suits you, you can rent your plane to good pilots who will pay a fair price for the privilege,” he said.
Along with the free listing for a single plane, Rent-A-Plane offers two affordable paid tiers for owners and groups that have additional aircraft they want to offer as rentals.
“The average airplane owner flies fewer than 100 hours a year, yet there are some pretty steep fixed costs that come with that ownership,” Weldon said. “Rent-A-Plane gives those pilots an easy-to-use web-based tool to dramatically offset their operating costs while still receiving the tax benefits of ownership and control over their aircraft.”
For renters, there’s a three-step process for finding the right plane. It starts with a search where renters can search by the type of aircraft or its location. They then can compare rental rates, read reviews, and see the member profiles for each aircraft. Once they find the plane that meets their needs, they directly contact the owner of the aircraft to arrange the rental.
“We designed this system to simplify the rental process and keep the owner in full control of the rental and the aircraft,” Weldon said. “This is unlike a third-party leaseback agreement where owners lose control over scheduling, who is flying their aircraft, and maintenance decisions.”