Fresh from successfully launching a luxury yacht version of Airnbnb and renting his $60 million, 54m boat to James Packer for a month at an estimated €250,000 ($414,000) per week, Ian Malouf has turned his sights to the corporate jet market.
Malouf, dubbed “Australia’s richest garbo” after selling Dial A Dump to the ASX-listed Bingo Industries in a $577m deal earlier this year, has plans with his new Central Jets business like those of his nautical Ahoy Club. The latter, launched by Malouf and his family last year, is an online booking platform for wealthy individuals and families who want to charter a luxury vessel anywhere in the world — but with a commission charge significantly less than existing boat brokers.
Based in London, where Ahoy Club also has its main office, Central Jets has established a similar centralised booking system that connects and allows executives or groups to book private jet flights with plane owners and operators.
Travellers, who pay €199 per month to be Central Jets members, request flights between cities and receive quotes depending the size and capacity of a corporate jet, with Central Jets staff then making all the flight arrangements.
Malouf says the business was born from frustration with non-transparent pricing and complex booking processes, similar to that he experienced when attempting to rent out the $60m, 54m yacht Mischief when he and his family were not using the boat, which led to the creation of Ahoy Club.
“It is about knowing what you are paying for and not paying really big commissions and not really getting value for that money. We see an opportunity for things to be done a lot cheaper and easier.
“Doing this also saves time for people. If you fly commercially you have to go to the airport, through all the process and then at the other end too. That can take a whole day, but with this you can fly quickly from an airport nearby and you can be somewhere in a couple of hours. That really appeals to people and we’ve had a very good summer in Europe as a result.”
Meanwhile, Malouf is also set to make another big move in the yachting world, bringing Mischief to Australia after many years, and a successful 2019 summer, in the Mediterranean.
“We’re going to put it to work and we think it’ll be very popular. Australia is a bit different to Europe in that you mostly do charter business for a day out on Sydney Harbour or a few days here and there.
“It’ll work from Sydney and then you’ve also got the Whitsundays and even over to Fiji and New Zealand. We think in particular demand will be very high for it for the next America’s Cup [in Auckland in 2021]. That will be great.”
He says Mischief will probably be rented out for at a hourly rate of about $15,000 when it is in Australia, which is planned in time for the coming summer months.
Malouf’s estimated $550m fortune on The List — Australia’s Richest 250 is mostly derived from his majority share of the $577m cash-and-scrip sale to Bingo. He maintains an 11.82 per cent stake worth almost $190m in Bingo, and has joined its board as a non-executive director.
While he still has waste and land assets in western Sydney, Malouf has spent much of the northern hemisphere summer in Europe, and has just got back on to Mischief in Sardinia after the boat was rented by James Packer before the billionaire recently took delivery of his $200m IJE yacht in late July.
Malouf says Mischief’s pending move to Australia means he is in the market for another, even bigger, superyacht for the northern hemisphere, but admits he is shopping in a seller’s market.
John Symond, for example, last week put his 73m Hasna on the market for $160m, and others like Brett Blundy and Frank Lowy have offloaded boats in recent months — proof, Malouf says, that cashed-up individuals and families are competing feverishly for available luxury vessels.
“These yachts take four years to build and there’s a shortage of really good ones so what people are doing is coming in and buying them just before they’re ready [to launch]. They don’t want to wait four years for one, and it means you can sell them for a lot of money before they’re even built — though then you have to find another one.”