NEW YORK -- A
recent study by the New York Times found that the top one-tenth of
1% of Americans -- about 145,000 people -- have an average income
of $3 million a year, up from $1.2 million in 1980. That sliver of
Americas nearly 300 million population earns 7.4% of the nations
entire income. According to the Times, the hyper-rich are leaving
even the rich behind.
demographics are creating new markets based on products and
services that target members of the economic stratosphere, and Gary
Mansour, founder of Avion Private Jet Club, is proof that those
markets can be tapped.
served upper-crust clientele for 30 years as the owner of a Beverly
Hills travel agency, Mansour Travel. He fell into handling travel
for film production companies in the 1970s for films such as Star
Wars and 10.
Along the way he
developed a taste for working with high rollers.
Thats what got me
hooked into the entertainment side of the [travel] business, he
said. These people are fun, crazy, 11th-hour, adrenaline-pumping,
creative types -- and they dont want to hear no.
his clients $10,000 a year to use his services. It shows a
commitment, he said. They can leave anytime they want, but it
changes the way they deal with you. They look at it as if were
under contract together. It creates a stronger loyalty. But if
theres a hiccup, they want to talk to you.
Mansour launched the Avion Private Jet Club. Using private
aircraft, such as eight-seat Gulfstream IV commuter jets or
Challengers, Avion operates Los Angeles-New York flights for an
exclusive membership clientele.
Members pay a
one-time $10,000 fee to join and then are entitled to use the
service -- at a price of $4,950 each way -- whenever the schedule
fits with their plans.
fee is intended to hold to a much higher, exclusive level of
traveler, said Mansour.
The high bar is
part of the appeal.
I have some
pretty impressive clients who hold privacy very close because the
press always wants to know where they are, he said.
The jets fly in
and out of private airports. Private town-car transfers are part of
the service. Catering is by Wolfgang Puck.
Mansour, Avion is economical for his clients.
Los Angeles-New York] would be $45,000 to $60,000, he said. Or if
you use an hourly card or fractional ownership programs, it can be
in excess of $70,000 because you have to pay monthly maintenance
includes those in show business, the financial industry, fashion,
Wall Street people, designers, the Hollywood crowd -- A-listers.
Our least affluent member is making at least half a million. I
didnt expect it to go below a million, Mansour said.
He said he is
remaining loyal to his travel agent brethren.
commissioned 10% across the board, including the $10,000 fee and
all seat sales, Mansour said. Im supporting the industry.
reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].