It’s a far more complicated answer than you might expect since there are essentially 5 different program types, all of which use varying pricing strategies which are based on the types of trips you fly. The fastest way to estimate your specific trip costs amongst all of the program types is to enter your trip itinerary into PriJet.com and you will receive estimates for dozens of programs along with estimated charter costs and availability. If you want to better understand the differences between the program types, I’ve outlined them for you below:
Full Aircraft Ownership
Like the title says, you own the jet, you hire the pilots and are responsible for all the costs associated with it such as a hangar to store it, insurance, maintenance, fuel, etc. There are dozens of models of private jets to choose from, each with their own set of performance specifications, fuel and maintenance costs and cabin configurations. Costs can be difficult, if not impossible to accurately predict since unanticipated maintenance events such as a bird or lightning strike can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, current market values tend to drop 10% per year so if you pay $5 million for a jet, it will be worth almost half in 5 years. Some owners choose to hire a management company who may hold the aircraft out for charter to help reduce expenses, but there will be increased wear and tear and the value of the jet will drop faster than average. To estimate fixed and variable costs for the different aircraft, check out PriJet’s “Ownership” section.
Typically the least expensive option is Charter. Those full aircraft owners who hire a management company from option 1 make up the vast majority of the available charter fleet with some exceptions where the management company is also the owner. The management companies are also the most highly regulated of all the options outlined here. In the U.S., they fall under FAA Part 135 regulations vs. Part 91 in Option 1. The primary difference is that 135 is “holding out” to the public as an Air Carrier vs. someone who simply buys a jet and controls the aircraft themselves. The public has certain expectations when they hire someone else to fly them; i.e. that the operations are safe and the FAA regularly inspects these management companies flight, pilot and maintenance records through regular and surprise on-site visits. It can take 6 months to a year or longer to obtain a 135 Air Carrier certificate. As you can imagine, the consistency in the Charter fleet varies quite a bit in both age and quality of the jets and the quality of service. PriJet tracks over 6k jets and turboprops Worldwide so there is plenty of capacity, but not if you have a desire to always fly in the same type of jet such as a Citation Sovereign where there are only 100 and far fewer of those are close to your desired departure and have amenities you desire such as WiFi. Obtaining a quote for a charter flight is a bit complicated and requires the Operator to first make sure the aircraft can perform the desired itinerary. Runway lengths, weather, payload, crew availability etc. all have to be taken into account to see how many fuel stops may be required as well as fuel prices, landing and parking/hangar fees at destination airports. The largest expense in most charter requests is the repositioning costs, so availability close to your departure airport has the largest impact on pricing and is why charter pricing can be so difficult to estimate. PriJet.com has many tools to help you with the procurement process and our PriJet Premium offers a technology solution which automatically requests quotes for all matching jets to any trip itinerary. Click here to enter your trip itinerary and obtain a charter estimate
Brokers either; act as sellers agents for management companies (also called Operators) or they act as buyers agents by helping customers procure aircraft from the available pool of charter aircraft. Brokers can add a layer of service and some can help improve consistency by recommending higher quality Operators and aircraft through their years of experience. There are very few regulations when it comes to private jet charter Brokers so it is wise to do your homework and if they are not following the basic regulations listed below, you might want to look elsewhere. Since each Broker decides which Operators and jets to offer a client and have discretion in how much margin to place on each trip, it becomes even more difficult to estimate Broker pricing. If you are unsure if your provider is a Broker or an Operator, check out PriJet.com’s Operator and Broker directories. In the U.S. Brokers are required to:Inform you who they represent (you or the Operator),Clearly state that they are not an Operator and are not “holding out” as an air carrier which would require them to obtain a license,Inform you which management company (Operator) you are flying with.
Sentient, a charter Broker founded in 1997 created the first Jet Card to improve the consistency in charter pricing. They first offered a $100k card which entitled the customer to fly at fixed hourly rates without any repositioning fees, which are the largest cost factor. Sentient would source jets through the available charter fleet from Option 2 above. In later years, Sentient began changing their contracts with Operators where they would pre-purchase flight time on a particular jet to gain exclusive use for their customers, then using sophisticated computer optimization algorithms, they would fill customer trips using these jets to reduce repositioning costs. This new process helped reduce costs and improve consistency in the quality of the jets. This new model has sometimes been referred to as a “Defined Fleet” meaning the program uses only specific operators and jets to fill trips for clients. Since then, many other types of Jet Cards have popped into and out of existence. Some are developed by Operators using their managed fleet of jets and others by Brokers who utilize various segments of the charter fleet. Guaranteeing availability and pricing can be tricky for the Jet Card programs, especially when they do not have a defined fleet since they have committed to a fixed price to customers and are forced to obtain highly volatile pricing in the charter market. This is why Jet Cards reduce exposure by; limiting the geographic region or peak day access; add flight time to each flight leg (they typically call it taxi time) or including daily flight time minimums which means you will be charged a full 2 hours even if you only fly 1 hour. PriJet.com has technology to estimate a full range of Jet Card options for your trip, simply add your itinerary from the Home page and click “Calculate”.
Fractional Jet Ownership
In 1986 NetJets Founder Richard Santulli started the first Fractional Jet Ownership program to offer an alternative to full aircraft ownership and charter. He was the first to offer a fixed hourly rate with no repositioning costs. When first launched, customers had the option to purchase as little as 1/4th of a brand new jet which entitled them to fly up to 200 hours each year at a fixed hourly rate. Since that time, several competing programs emerged, two of the largest are now owned by Directional Aviation; FlexJet and Flight Options. They now offer programs with as little as a 1/16th share from a broad range of aircraft and some offer Jet Cards which can be purchased in 25 hour increments such as Marquis Jet. Similar to the Jet Cards in Option 4 above, Fractional Jet Ownership programs will add taxi time, minimum flight segments and minimum daily flight usage charges and some will limit peak day usage. PriJet.com has technology to estimate a full range of Fractional Jet Ownership options for your trip, simply add your itinerary from the Home page and click “Calculate”.