Jessica Fisher, founder and CEO of FLYJETS, talks all things aviation, sustainability and the next destination on her own flight path.
As a lifetime aviation enthusiast and bona fide scholar, Jessica Fisher intertwined her passion of flying and economics to build FLYJETS, an innovative and sustainable private jet company designed to facilitate access to air travel. After earning her MBA at Columbia Business School and a BA in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, she began private pilot studies and flight lessons at Danny Waizman Flight School in the spring of 2012, and completed her first solo flight only two years later. Here, we catch up with the inspiring trailblazer.
Can you tell me about your past and what drew you to aviation? I’ve always loved planes and aviation. When I was 16, I told my dad I wanted to live in a hangar at Westchester Airport; he said, ‘Good luck.’ Fast-forward to 2012, and I had Fridays off at business school and was able to start taking flying lessons out at Republic Airport. The first time I got behind the yoke, I decided I wanted to be in the air every day! It was unbelievable.
What inspired you to start FLYJETS? How did you know it was the right time? Prior to business school—when the idea for FLYJETS was born in my Introduction to Venturing course—I was working on a number of renewable fuel projects, and had started to focus on Jet-A fuel. I anticipated that both jets and jet fuel could be ‘done’ in a very green way… hence, FLYJETS’ FLYGreen initiative.
Can you give me a story about leading your own company? Along the way, I learned a very neat trick—on many occasions, when someone told me ‘no,’ I instead heard the word ‘yes.’ I would say that this ‘trick’ was one of the most important drivers of FLYJETS’ success.
Jessica Fisher poses with a Gulfstream G-450
What makes FLYJETS unique? The FLYJETS application itself is a unique software platform in two ways. One, it functions as a marketplace for dynamic (moving) vehicles and phenomena, and two, it enables the specific customization of routes on an exact, point-to-point basis. The structure of the platform allows us to work with and create structure for both outright charter capacity—and thereby incorporate one or more outbound destinations to any number of inbound destinations, often based on geographical ranges—and ‘charter flights,’ as FLYJETS has coined empty legs.
Our corporate structure is also unique, and, in my opinion, particularly awesome. FLYJETS is the trade name for FLY I Corporation, a New York State benefit corporation with the core mission of doing well by doing good. Our general social benefit is defined as enabling access to aviation, and we specifically deliver on this social benefit via a side-by-side foundation, The FLY Foundation. The primary goal of The FLY Foundation is to facilitate safe and sustainable aviation education, and to match up and subsidize lessons for aspiring pilots and certified flight instructors. With each flight booked via FLYJETS, a minimum of 5% of FLYJETS’ booking fee is directed to the foundation.
Can you talk about the FLYGreen system? Our environmental initiative, our FLYGreen and FLYRewards systems, is also unique in that we have effectively created the world’s first carbon off set and, ultimately, green fuel subsidy. Specifically, the system will enable those FLYJETS members who choose to off set their flight—and, in the future, fly with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and green fuel alternatives—to earn additional currency-equivalent points toward future bookings, above the number of FLYRewards they ordinarily achieve with each flight booking.
Are there any current projects that you are particularly excited about? I’m very excited about a series of front-end updates to our web application, and the forthcoming release of the FLYJETS mobile application!
Photography by: PHOTO REPUBLIC AIRPORT/COURTESY OF FLYJETS