Private Jet Club CEO Disappears With $60 Million Of Members’ Money

How the CEO of a private jet startup vanished, taking $60 million of club members' hard-earned funds along with him.

Private Jet Club CEO Disappears With $60 Million Of Members’ Money

Image: DMARGE/Romer Macapuno

With news this year that not only do private jets actually cost less than flying business class, as well as the shock that $100 private jets have arrived thanks to a revolutionary ‘Uber-style’ app, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that not only has interest in the vehicles surged but, predictably, someone has found a way to rip-off those eager to hit the skies.

This is the story of how the CEO of AeroVanti, a private jet startup originally based in Sarasota, Florida, reportedly vanished, taking with him US$40 million (c. A$60 million) of club members’ funds. Behind him he left more than 300 members — along with countless staff and contractors — in total disarray, questioning the future of their investments in what was once a promising, potentially once-in-a-decade venture for the luxury aviation sector.

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Founded by Patrick Britton-Harr in 2021, AeroVanti promised to revolutionize the private jet industry with a (relatively) affordable membership model. For a monthly fee of US$1,000 — plus US$1,500 per hour in the air — members could enjoy flights on twin-engine Piaggios, complete with all the mod-cons you’d expect in such a luxurious setting, including full catering, high-speed Wi-Fi, and pet-friendly policies.

Given its enticing offer, the company quickly gained nationwide traction, raising somewhere in the region of US$110 million in investments and signing up over 300 members in its first year. Promises of expansion and exclusive benefits for top-tier members began to circulate, compounding excitement further.

And yet, the facade quickly began to crumble as members faced frequent flight cancellations and scores of unmet promises, leading to widespread dissatisfaction and, eventually, outright accusations of fraud.

The man himself, Patrick Britton-Harr, with his wife. Image: Business Observer

Britton-Harr had long been a serial entrepreneur — which was initially a source of confidence for investors and members alike —but has now come under intense scrutiny amidst allegations of financial mismanagement and deceptive practices that could be considered outright theft.

Unsurprisingly, his previous ventures — which include a mobile dentistry company and medical testing labs — have been somewhat overshadowed by this ongoing scandal.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed against AeroVanti and Britton-Harr, from both members and aircraft leaders alike. The Federal Aviation Administration and the US Department of Justice are also investigating the company, with the latter taking special interest in Britton-Harr’s assets connected to alleged fraudulent activities in his prior businesses… no surprises there, then.

One of Britton-Harr’s many indulgences included sponsoring a car at the Coca-Cola 600. Image: Getty

The private aviation industry, while immensely lucrative, has been known for its lack of stringent oversight and regulation compared to commercial airlines. AeroVanti’s collapse highlights the many potential risks this invokes, with industry insiders calling this an unprecedented level of deceit and mismanagement.

As what promises to be a long and expensive legal battle begins to unfold, Britton-Harr’s whereabouts remain unknown, with many left wondering about the fate of their investments and the accountability of those who exploited their good faith.

Do you think Britton-Harr will get his just desserts? Or will this be another instance of a fat cat getting away scot free? Let us know.

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