Owning or Chartering? The Endless Private Jet Debate


Owning a private jet might be perceived as the ultimate success story for business people or professional athletes, but truth to be told, it comes at a very high price. Buying an aircraft is just the first step in a long process, as owners still need to invest in a crew, maintenance, and insurance (more to come regarding costs). The previous is the reason why chartering, instead of owning, is a common trend within potential private jet users, whether large corporations, celebrities or anyone who understands the true value that this segment brings to the table: flexibility and time-efficiency.

For starters, a mid-size aircraft can cost between 12 and 20 million euros, a price tag that triggers a large sequence of secondary expenses. Every plane needs insurance, a flying crew, a maintenance program, scheduled and non-scheduled, and accounting for FBO fees (hangarage, fuel, flight dispatch). Add the aircraft market depreciation, and owning a jet quickly looks like having a whole new business, but without the revenue.

Many owners will argue that the aircraft allows producing more business due to its flexibility. True. But at what cost? Fairly high. To be fair, there’s one variable that justifies the purchase of a private jet. No, not the sum of money on your bank nor the inefficiency of commercial air travel. It’s defined by how much time you’ll spend flying; how many hours per year you will actually operate the aircraft. That number should be anywhere between 200 to 400 hours, everything less, and this project will be officially operating at a loss due to the extensive overall costs. Any grounded aircraft is a money-losing machine.

Fahim Jalali, Chief Business Officer at JetClass says “In this age of uncertainty where both political and economic peaks and troughs have become commonplace, one can understand the increasing trend of chartering vs ownership.  It provides flexibility and adaptability without the commitment but with all the benefits.  Of course, where money is no object then those privileged few will always opt for ownership, although one must bear in mind this asset can fast become a liability given the right circumstances.

How private charters adapt to your travel needs

Owning or chartering a jet provides extreme flexibility, nevertheless, choosing the charter route allows passengers to adapt the aircraft to their travel needs. When you own a jet, you have only one fixed option for your journey, whether it’s a one or five-hour flight. And what if you want to land on a runway too short for your plane? Private charter companies like Vienna based JetClass provide precise aircraft for the traveler’s need, which also will grant overall cost-efficiency, and you won’t have to worry about separately paying hangarage or FBO services. Everything comes in one full package.

Almost 80% of all global private flights are under two hours, therefore for those routes you will want to use a turboprop or small jet instead of a heavy business aircraft, especially if you won’t be utilizing extra space in the cabin. Furthermore, there are some demanding runways with size restrictions for larger planes or more challenging from an operational standpoint; unpaved runways of grass or gravel where only a turboprop like the Pilatus PC-12 can operate. This flexibility is not within the traits of owning a fixed private jet.

Large corporations that own a fleet of aircraft still need to charter planes for certain routes, not only because it’s the wise financial decision, but since it’s also the safest. Operating the aircraft that truly adapts to a certain runway and route is the only way to go. These two variables are the main reason why charter flight has gained ground all around the world, not only in larger economies: time and cost efficiency are highly valued in every business and industry around the globe.

JetClass is a business jet airline based in Vienna that offers air shuttle standard and premium services within Europe, air taxi services within Europe, airline-on-demand services, and private jet charter services. JetClass was founded by Wagas Ali, who currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer.

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