Highflyer Interview with Alex Wilcox, JSX’s CEO

The US aviation market has earned a reputation for its stability and consolidation. Major carriers are identified with their hubs, which have slowly grown into a market monopoly. 

But a new business model is emerging. JSX, originally known as Jet Suite X (XE), offers greater ease in grabbing a flight—what it calls ‘hop-on jet service’—enabling passengers to arrive as late as 20 minutes before their flight. The flights are point-to-point, and the on-board service is premium.

We discussed JSX's history, challenges, and strategies with Alex Wilcox, its co-founder and CEO. Wilcox has a long and successful history in aviation, notably as a founder of JetBlue. Now, he runs one of the most revolutionary airlines in the US. Since 2016, JSX has carried in North America hundreds of thousands of passengers who have taken advantage of its novel business model.

How did the JSX project start, and what was the main idea behind the new airline?

At the time, we were operating a private jet company called Jet Suite, and we noticed that many of our customers were paying us US$10,000 for a one-hour flight from Burbank to Oakland. We asked our customers, “Why are you paying us this much when you can fly on another airline for a few hundred dollars?” and the answer invariably was, “It's for the convenience on the ground.

I want to show up, I want the door to close behind me on the airplane and I want to take off. I don't want to wait for 180 people to get on the airplane. I don't want to walk through a shopping mall or take off my shoes, and I don’t want to do all the stuff required to fly commercially now. I just want to get from point A to point B, and I don’t want to get worn out about it.”

So, we thought to ourselves, “If we can produce a private jet-like experience on the ground at a price point that's more like a commercial one, we will have a huge opportunity.”

Right now, there is no difference between the price of First Class on a major network carrier and that of a private jet. It's either a few hundred or tens of thousands of dollars here—so, we came in at just a little bit more than flying commercial, but a lot less than private jet—but with a lot…

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