The travel industry saw unprecedented disruption in 2020, with lockdowns and restrictions introduced throughout the developed world. One of the many consequences of these events has been the rise of private travel, which has seen enormous new interest from businesses and individuals alike.
According to findings from FlightAware, private jet charters have nearly returned to 2019 levels, while commercial flights are still struggling to return to peak altitude. The speedy recovery can be largely attributed to the business of new flyers, who were previously uninterested in charters.
Commercial regulations have played a part in the current private travel boom, there’s no doubt that many travelers remain skeptical of the health hazards that come with commercial services. While major airlines have done their best to limit contact and ramp up sanitation on flights, the close-quarters nature of the industry has been an ongoing concern.
The advantage of private travel is clear from a health and safety standpoint, pandemic or otherwise. Compared to the roughly 700 points of contact a passenger will encounter on a commercial flight, a private flyer will experience no more than 20. This minimal interaction and expedited movement was worth the extra cost for many new customers in 2020.
Furthermore, the barriers to entry in private travel are less daunting than pre-pandemic times. While prices remain prohibitive for many, lower overall costs invited a brand new segment of customers to the private charter scene. Pay-as-you-go membership programs have been a huge point of appeal for these newcomers, who can more swiftly and easily schedule flights according to their needs.
Many businesses have been forced to evolve on the fly during 2020, and private travel was one of the few to come out on top. A handful of industry innovators can be credited with capitalizing on the situation, drawing on a wealth of knowledge and experience in the sector. From business travel to personal use and various niche charter services, adaptability has been the key factor this year, favoring smaller and more agile private jet companies such as Beverly Hills-based Jet Agency.
Dimitri “Dean” Katamanin, an aviation industry veteran and architect of some of the most impactful deals in the industry, holds an MBA from Northwestern University, is a real estate developer, and serves as the Managing Partner of Jet Agency and their affiliated companies. Dean, who also goes by Dima, is widely recognized as one of the private aviation industry’s most successful jet agent, adept at building and coordinating operational teams, lining up funding and buyers to purchase and divest aircraft solidifies Dean’s place as of the most trusted and revered members of the industry.
While many business leaders struggle to revive their careers at the beginning of 2021, Dean Katamanin finds himself positioned for more success than ever before. His MBA background and extensive industry knowledge have allowed him to focus on the tech side of private travel and enhance the customer experience by leaps and bounds. In a time when legacy travel companies are relying on dated scheduling and pricing systems, Dean is making things easier, more efficient, and more cost-effective for this expanding base of new customers.
Dean became fascinated with birds at a young age when traveling with his family and their friends on Frank Sinatra’s G2SP famously known as tail number N216RR, taking in the landing through the flight attendants jump seat, instantly, he was hooked. Upon graduating from undergrad at Northwestern University, his passion was calling where he joined Jet Flite International, an operator of private aircraft, and was quickly promoted to Vice President. Not long thereafter, the always clever monger hired a film crew to chronicle the lives of the rich and famous through the world of the exclusive luxury travel experience but passed in order to protect their anonymity – the precursor to the well known Below Deck series airing on Bravo.
To capitalize on the influences of the entertainment industry and their private lives, Dean’s career took flight upon hanging his wings as a partner at Jet79 where he teamed up with film studios, concert promoters, and sports teams which lead to an elite clientele of movie stars, musicians, and athletes as well as many high net worth individuals, through his ability to create superlative experiences via his personalized touches and first rate service. Dean and his partner at Jet79 remain best friends and still work on trips together today.
Dean’s involvement in every facet of the jet business including owner, operator and broker allowed him to see the lack synergies in the industry, where operators don’t cater to clients’ needs and clients can’t handle a fleet. Recognizing enhancements to technology and the role it plays in disrupting archaic industry, along with the flourishing demand in private travel, Dean’s career is soaring to new heights in his current position as the Managing Partner of Jet Agency. Jet Agency is transforming the private bird industry with their proprietary technology by offering streamlined quoting, instant booking, and lower pricing though efficient processes, affording their clients a better experience as well as creating their own fleet. Not only will Jet Agency revolutionize the way private aviation is consumed today, but it will also make it more accessible with less hassle.
As a practicing yogi, Dean is a firm believer in one’s energy, and improving that of those around him through volunteering and financial contributions in memory of lost loved ones. Dean’s admiration towards his family is what he credits as the nurturer of the positive outlook he shares, and his experiences with his family is the tenant that makes him who he is today. His optimism and resilience have served him well throughout 2020, making the best of these circumstances for his company and career.
Dean received his Master of Business Administration in Advertising from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and his Bachelor of Arts in Economics and International Studies from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.