Eric Grossman BARRON’S
Private Jet Companies Are Flying For a Cause
December 8, 2020
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  • Given the stratospheric costs inherent in the private aviation industry, it comes as no surprise to learn of myriad charitable partnerships and philanthropic endeavors among private jet companies. But in the wake of a global pandemic that has changed the way people fly and rocked the sector to its core, various private jet companies have expanded or recalibrated their charitable efforts.

    In September, Wheels Up, which is known for its blue and white livery, unveiled its first orange plane, a Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft created in conjunction with Textron Aviation, to honor Feeding America’s Hunger Action Month. The orange jet is part of the ongoing Wheels Up Cares and Meals Up initiatives, the latter of which was created in March to help support the growing levels of food insecurity during the Covid-19 crisis.

    To date, the project has raised the equivalent of more than 47 million meals for Feeding America, thanks in part to support from Wheels Up ambassadors such as athletes Tom Brady, Alex Rodriguez, and Russell Wilson, and performers Ciara and Jennifer Lopez. 

    Meanwhile, Omaha-based Jet Linx maintains a strong partnership with The Tutu Project, a New Jersey-based organization dedicated to raising funds for women, men, and their families to ease the financial burdens that come with breast cancer diagnoses. Each year since 2015, Jet Linx has issued a #Dare2Tutu Challenge, which sees the company match donations and more.

    To date, Jet Linx has raised more than $180,000 for The Tutu Project, making it the organization’s single-largest corporate sponsor in both 2018 and 2019.

    As one of the biggest and oldest names operating today, NetJets offers one of the most traditional examples of a charitable partnership within the industry. The Columbus, Ohio-based company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway founded in 1964, sets its philanthropic initiatives and sustainability programs in accordance with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Its Corporate Angel Network (CAN) partnership dates back to 1997, with NetJets and its customers having donated hundreds of flight hours to adult and pediatric cancer patients traveling to and from treatment programs.

    One of NetJets’ newer partnerships, with Product Red (RED), aims to help ensure that people living with HIV can continue to access treatment and services amid the pandemic. When NetJets owners purchase a 25-hour RED Card, NetJets invests $2,500 in global health programs through (RED); contributions from the program support the Global Fund’s Covid-19 Response Mechanism, which is helping to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on HIV/AIDS services.

    For its part, Quincy, Mass.-based Flexjet donates flight hours and financial support to an Emeril Lagasse Foundation charity gala and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.

    London-based Victor is forging a sustainable future for private aviation, with a goal of becoming the world’s most environmentally responsible private aviation provider. Since 2018, Victor’s global operations have been carbon neutral, and in 2019 the company accelerated its commitment to the planet with a series of environmental partners, including Vertis and South Pole. The carbon emissions of every flight booked through Victor are offset by 200% at no extra cost to the customer. (Fliers who wish to contribute the equivalent of 400%, 800%, or a higher offset can do so through Victor’s carbon-offset program.)

    Since launching its double-carbon-offset policy, Victor reports it has offset more than 62,000 tons of CO2—the equivalent of protecting tree cover 26 times the size of New York’s Central Park.