Flying on commercial airlines is one of the most common ways to travel today. Whilst flying greatly reduces your travel time, it comes with other stresses including long queues, overbooked flights, lost luggage, and early check in, to name a few. It may come as a surprise to you, however, that you don’t actually have to be a millionaire to travel in style.
There are a few options available that fit between flying commercially and having your own private aircraft.
The most economical option would be the Jet Card. This system works on buying a set amount of hours from a company and using those hours for different trips.
The next step up would be joining a company that offers a membership model. This is where you pay an initiation fee to fly in their fleet and then an annual fee from the second year. The best way to describe it would be like joining a country club only you’re guaranteed access to a range of planes instead of a golf course.
The most personalised option would be to charter flights through a company. You can search online and receive the most competitive prices for a private jet charter. This will enable you to choose from a global network of operators and fly on your own schedule. Sometimes you can be in the air within as little as 2 hours from acceptance of quote.
One downside to travelling on smaller planes is that weight matters. Don’t be surprised if you are contacted for passenger weights before take-off, or when a pilot organizes seating by weight. Similarly unusual or oversized items, like sporting equipment, may not fit within weight limitations. If necessary you can always send unaccompanied luggage on beforehand for a relatively small fee.
Finally there is the ultimate luxury of private aircraft ownership. This option provides you with the most flexibility in the comfort of your own plane. However this freedom also comes with a multitude of responsibilities.
The annual fixed costs of owning an aircraft are significant and it is only cost-effective for very high-frequency users. The average private jet owner has to fly over 400 hours per year to make ownership as cost effective as chartering.
One of the largest costs is crew salaries. At the time of writing, the average figure for contract pilots was $1,200 per day or $400k per annum for two pilots. A flight attendants salary is usually 30-50% of the pilots. Other management fees will include crew training, insurance, scheduled maintenance, hangarage, navigation charts and software, cleaning, cabin repairs and refurbishment.
Another crucial question would be what type of aircraft to buy? One type of aircraft may be too big to land at a smaller airfield; another too small to make a longer journey without time-costly fuel stops.
With scheduled maintenance downtime required throughout the year combined with the other consideration that a single aircraft type is not suitable or effective for all routes, owning a single private jet is not always the most practical solution. As a result, even those who do choose to buy one will supplement flying on their own aircraft by chartering.
For an avid aviator the reasons for buying a private jet almost always are non-financial. Some owners may choose to obtain their Private Pilot’s License (PPL) so that they can pilot their own plane. It’s important to remember that a PPL will have limitations on the type of plane you can fly, however if you are supplementing your travel itinerary with chartered flights then you may have found the perfect balance.
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