Todd Weeber is the COO of Magellan Jets, and has been in the aviation field for over 30 years, having amassed over 16,000 hours of flight time in a broad array of aircraft, including jets, turboprops, sea planes, and gliders. He has served in leadership roles at Trans States Airlines, Midway Airlines, and at NetJets, the largest provider of fractional aircraft ownership services.
The focus of Mr. Weeber’s 30 years of aviation experience has been a pursuit of process improvement, with the end goal of providing ideal experiences and optimal outcomes for clients. He has also served as Captain on four different types of turbojet aircraft, built quality control and case management teams, implemented complex technology solutions, and delivered enhanced safety management systems – all with the client experience in mind. Before Magellan Jets, he served as President and Managing Partner of Weeber & Associates, an Operational Excellence Consultancy focused on strategic leadership, customer experience, and crisis management.
We recently talked with Mr. Weeber about the evolving popularity of Magellan Jets, and how Covid has allowed the private aviation industry to evolve in a positive way. He also spoke of the future of SAFs – Sustainable Airline Fuels for future private jet aviation.
JustLuxe: How has Covid affected the Magellan jet industry both from the positive and the challenging sides?
Mr. Weeber:There is a renewed understanding of the value that business aviation provides. It is safer to travel with smaller groups of people that you know. No storming of cockpits by troubled people. In addition, our new destination partners provide easy and safe access to hundreds of resort, villa, estate, and yachting destinations
In addition, there is now in commercial aircraft, both a scarcity of available aircraft and qualified crew members, and if you have to go somewhere, you often have to travel to other destinations before you go to your preferred destination. Business aviation using private jets, takes you from here to there as we know what our clients know: time is precious.
Further, because time has become even more precious to business and families now, there is a resurgence of both intentional and unintentional illegal charter, putting people and assets at risk. And of course, there’s “Carmaggedon” or, the unusual and acute absence of available rental cars. Magellan private jet travel eliminates risks to people, assets, and the wasting of time.
JustLuxe: What percentage of client growth has there been during q1 2021?
Mr. Weeber: 50% increase in jet card and membership programs, and a 33% increase on-demand jet charter.
JustLuxe: It has been said that the main advantage of flying privately is the major saving of time by the passenger, and the convenience of not being in a major airport. Are these advantages what your Magellan clients tell you, or are there other major advantages?
Mr. Weeber: Yes, indeed. Now, more important than ever since the airline schedule has been structurally altered to support leisure destinations – the main way to get to and from a business or essential services mission on the same day is by business jet. Safer to travel with a small number of people that all know each other. Private terminals are usually much less crowded
JustLuxe: Please talk about the future of green private jet flights. How far along is Magellan on that trail? And what research is being done on new jet fuels that are greener than they are now?
Mr. Weeber: A majority of the impact of aviation comes from non-CO2 emissions – emissions like nitrous oxides or the formation of contrails. The non-CO2 emissions of gases and aerosol particles affect atmospheric composition and cloudiness, adding to the overall climate impact from the sector’s CO2 emissions. Climate impacts can be compared with a metric known as an emissions index. Using an emissions index known as the global warming potential (GWP), we can convert the impact of non-CO2 emissions into a CO2-equivalent amount (CO2e).
To be truly emissions neutral and reduce our full impact on climate change, we must consider our entire impact. Current best estimates of the GWP of all aviation emissions is 3.0, so to be emission neutral requires offsetting 300% of carbon dioxide emissions alone. Today, MJ customers can offset as much as they would like, even flights not managed directly by Magellan Jets.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) provides the only viable way to reduce aviation emissions significantly in the short to medium term. SAF can be made from renewable sources such as used cooking oil, municipal waste and woody biomass. Right now, SAFs are viable, but still not a perfect solution. No breakthrough yet, but we are close. Magellan Jets is on track to utilize all SAF by 2025.
Also, next generation aircraft offer superior unit economics: Greater dispatch reliability and significantly lower operating costs while also benefiting the environment. Magellan Jets will select one to two next generation aircraft types in each category (helicopter, turboprop, light-, mid-, super-mid-, and large business jets) between today and 2030 to enable the next generation of business and private flyers to fly with zero environmental impact.
JustLuxe: You have just added two new planes to the growing number of Magellan Jets — the Cessna CJ3/4, a flexible light jet with great power and fuel economy, and the Bombardier Challenger 604/605, a heavier plane. What are the reasons for Magellan doing this, in addition to expanding the member’s Jet Card options?
Mr. Weeber: As the recognized voice of the astute business and private aviation users, we are constantly updating our solution portfolio to match the demand of our jet card owners, members, and clients.
JustLuxe: Finally, we guess that the mission and vision of Magellan (very like its namesake Ferdinand Magellan who explored unknown lands until his death after he was the first to circumnavigate the globe) would be to take vacationing and business passengers anywhere they wanted to go. In dealing with distant lands, like Antarctica, or 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, or to places in Saudi Arabia, how close is Magellan coming to operationalizing this vision??
Mr. Weeber: If you’re looking for a Ferdinand-like adventure like these, with happy endings, we can do all of this today.