Virgin Plans Online Market for Private Flights

Sir Richard Branson later this year plans to launch Virgin Charter, an online marketplace for matching travelers with companies that charter private jets or airplanes, the Wall Street Journal reports. The site for Virgin Charter, of Santa Monica, CA., will allow travelers to search for aircraft to fly between particular destinations (as long as flights originate in the U.S.), view results from buyer ratings and safety audits of charter operators, and purchase travel, the company says. Demand for private jets has been rising lately: Hours flown by general-aviation and air-taxi jet aircraft in the U.S., a group that includes private jets, rose about 41 percent to an estimated 3.9 million hours last year from 2002, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.