For years, private air travel meant owning and managing your own plane (capital intensive and time consuming) or chartering someone else’s (expensive and unpredictable).
But the emergence over the past 10-15 years of new opportunities in private air travel — specifically those in the burgeoning “shared-use” arena—have made private air travel easier and more affordable. This industry is constantly evolving and the options are many. We anticipate and understand new developments so that we can best serve your needs. This section of our web site is devoted to explaining, in simple terms, the major shared-use options in the private air travel arena.
Fractional ownership is the most popular shared-use model in the private air travel arena. Essentially, you purchase a partial interest in an aircraft that is operated by the jet company as part of its fleet. As an owner, you have the right to use any comparable aircraft in the fleet, on demand, for a predetermined number of hours each year. (A typical agreement might include 100 hours of flying time per year for a 1/8 share.) The fractional jet company manages the fleet, providing pilots, maintenance, insurance, catering and other services. You merely call a few hours ahead of time and the jet company guarantees delivery of a plane where you want it, when you want it, to take you where you want to go.
You pay a purchase price for the fractional share based on the value of your aircraft, as well as a monthly management fee and a charge for each hour of flight time. These costs vary depending upon the aircraft and the size of the share purchased. At the end of the investment (usually five years), the jet company repurchases your share based on the fair market value of the aircraft.
Fractional jet card programs have become popular with travelers who fly less than fifty hours per year. For a set price, you buy anywhere from ten to twenty-five hours of flight time and when those hours are used up, your investment ends. Having eliminated the ownership component of the fractional model, these programs are attractive to those who may not want to make a large capital investment or who may not want to be subject to the ups and downs of the aircraft resale market that affect fractional owners. Still, fractional jet card flyers want to fly on aircraft that are managed and operated as part of a single, fractional fleet.
Charter jet card programs work like fractional jet card programs in that you purchase a set number of flight hours or deposit a certain amount against which your flight hours and costs are credited. Charter jet card companies, however, don’t manage and operate a fleet of aircraft. Rather, they make arrangements with independent charter operators around the country to provide aircraft to service your trips. Although there is less uniformity in the aircraft and their operation, many charter jet card programs use safety auditing services to make certain that their operators are safe and reliable.
Of course, for single trips, traditional charter remains the best option. There are no deposits or long term commitments. You pay the cost of the trip and when your trip is completed, your commitment ends.
With the advent of so-called, “very light jets,” air taxi services, long a staple of private aviation, have re-emerged as another private jet travel option. These services are somewhat akin to the commercial airlines in that they generally fly discrete routes on somewhat pre-determined schedules and offer per seat fares.