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Feb / Mar 2018
Not Winging It

WRITER: Charlie Woodstock

Owning a private jet may be fly but the headache associated with managing all of its various expenses is certainly no joke. Luckily, there’s Portside.

When it comes to zipping around the world on your own terms, owning a private jet is pretty much as good as it gets. Forget airline schedules, tedious waits and long walks through various terminals – a private jet offers unprecedented freedom and customised service in the sky. But back on solid ground, there are some serious responsibilities that come with owning a jet. We’re talking operating costs and analyses, tax audit documents and expense sheets. The fact is, it can be an accounting nightmare, but now there’s a specialised independent financial management company that makes it a whole lot less painful.

“The aha moment came during dinner with a friend who mentioned the ‘massive headache’ of owning a private jet. As much as he enjoyed flying private, he didn’t seem to appreciate the old fashioned way in which his aircraft was being managed, with stacks of paper, an occasional Excel file, and the need to call someone every time he needed a clarification of a particular expense or get an invoice to back it up,” explains Alek Vernitsky, a Harvard Business School grad who co-founded Portside.

 

 

The San Francisco-based company offers a user-friendly platform to clients (who range from private individuals to management companies and charter operators) shedding light on where all the money is going, with clever analytics and simulations like the mission analyser. “It takes owners’ specific flight data and superimposes a different aircraft to give them an idea of what it would cost to fly the same missions using a different aircraft. All calculations are based on real expense data collected from other Portside users. We can also calculate the savings, or additional expense, of trading the owner’s existing aircraft for another model,” explains Vernitsky.

Though based in the US, Vernistsky has amassed a handful of Middle East-based clients, whom he says tend to fly internationally more frequently than their U.S. based customers and on heavier planes. But overall, the concerns are the same no matter where the air base.

“New owners tend to think that plane ownership is either easy, or hard and unpredictable. Neither is exactly true,” says Vernitsky. “Planes are expensive, complex assets, more akin to owning and managing a business than, say, owning a car. As with any business, having the right team and systems in place is key to making it run smoothly.”

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