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Examples of costs and pricing models for private jet charter services

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8th June 2023

private jet charter prepared for take off

What is a private air charter?

Private air charter refers to the hire of an entire aircraft for private use, rather than flying on a commercial airline. It allows individuals, companies, or groups to have exclusive use of an aircraft and the opportunity to customize their travel experience according to their specific needs and preferences.

With private air charter, clients have the flexibility to choose the aircraft type, departure time, destination, and even the in-flight services on board. This personalized approach provides numerous advantages over commercial air travel including privacy, time efficiency, convenience, and comfort.

How much does a private air charter cost?

Well, that’s what we’re going to discover today as it’s a little more complex than hiring a car for example. That’s because there are many different variables that affect the cost of chartering a private aircraft including type and size, flight distance and duration, seasonal demand, airport fees, handling charges, on-board services, and scheduling.

Sounds complicated right? Well, with the help of a private charter broker, it’s actually much easier to navigate than it might sound initially. It’s also important to note that private air charter pricing can vary between operators and is influenced by market conditions, regional considerations, and individual service offerings.

Overview of pricing models for private jet charter services

coffee and a private jet toy plane private jet charter

Within the private air charter world, there are also several ways in which costs can be built through different pricing models, which makes the composition of estimates easier to understand.

We’re going to explore the most common ones so that you’re empowered to make well-informed decisions, optimize your travel expenses, and ensure a seamless private jet experience.

Hourly Rate

This is one of the most prevalent pricing models. The cost is calculated based on the flight duration, typically charged per hour of flight time. The hourly rate usually includes the aircraft’s operating costs, such as fuel, crew salaries, maintenance, and insurance. The rate may vary depending on the aircraft type, size, and additional services you require pre, during, and post-flight.

As a barometer, here are some estimated brackets for billable hour air charter, which vary depending on aircraft size. You can see a breakdown of the different types of private jet aircraft in our article on the subject here.

Estimated price brackets (hourly rate) x aircraft type:

  • Turboprops & Very Light Jets (VLJs): $2,500 ― $3,500 per hour
  • Light to Superlight Jets: $3,500 ― $5,000 per hour
  • Midsize to Super Midsize Jets: $5,000 — $10,000 per hour
  • Heavy to Ultra Long-Range Jets: $10,000 ― $14,000 per hour
  • Luxury / Bizliners: $14,000 — $25,000 per hour

These estimates should give you an idea of what the rough, projected costs are, but these can vary depending on several factors that an air charter broker will be able to discuss at the time of inquiry.

Block Hour Bookings

Flight hours can also be sold in blocks, but you may be limited to a selection of aircraft that you can’t change throughout the block.

Each booking also requires owner approval, which means you’re not always guaranteed to be able to use your hours when you wish. You can buy block hours on a monthly or yearly basis, so if, for example, you’ll be flying multiple legs over a month, you can block book the aircraft for that period, giving you the flexibility to fly whenever you want to during that block.

It’s worth noting that even if you don’t use all your hours, you’ll still have to pay for them as the terms aren’t usually flexible. Also, if you have a problem such as a mechanical issue, you’ll need a new contract for a backup plane. This is because your block of hours is specific to one aircraft. If you’re looking at this option, make sure you choose an operator with a larger fleet, or a backup may not even be available. Booking an air charter broker is likely to offer you more flexibility as they have access to more aircraft through their network and aren’t bound by their own fleet.

Typical block-hour bookings for smaller aircraft start at around 60 hours, with larger aircraft bookings starting from 80-100 hours.

Best suited to: Corporate travelers, sports teams, high-net-worth individuals, MICE, and music tours.

On-Demand Charter

On-demand charter is a pay-as-you-go model where clients book private jet flights on an individual basis with as little as 4 hours’ notice. The price is determined for each trip based on factors such as the desired aircraft, flight distance, duration, airport fees, and any additional services requested. On-demand charters offer flexibility in terms of aircraft selection and flight scheduling, with no up-front costs, obligations, or commitments. An on-demand flight gives you the most amount of control over the way you travel.

There’s no other way of flying that allows you to have the same level of flexibility as flying on-demand, while there are no blackout days where you can’t travel. It’s also possible to get a great discount on a flight if the aircraft needs to fly in the direction of your destination. These last-minute charter prices can save you significant sums when compared to standard charter rates when they’re available in the market.

If you fly less than 25 hours a year, air charter on-demand is the most cost-effective and flexible method for you to fly privately, whether it’s for business or personal use. Costs can range from $2,000 ― $30,000 and depend entirely on the type and specification of aircraft you choose to charter, including any optional extras.

Best suited to: Corporate travelers, group charters, occasional private flyers, sports events, MICE

Empty Leg Flights: An empty leg, also known as a repositioning flight, refers to the return journey of a private jet that has dropped off passengers at their destination and needs to return to its base or next pick-up location without passengers. Empty-leg flights are often offered at significantly discounted prices, making them an economical option for those with flexible travel plans or for business executives looking to avoid the rush from a busy tourist season or an overcrowded aircraft.

With empty-leg flights, you can sometimes save up to 75% of the initial cost of a private jet charter. For instance, a midsize charter can cost as much as $20,000, while an empty-leg flight can go as low as $9,000. The costs can also be much lower when booking an empty-leg flight for group travelers too.

Best suited to: Corporate travelers, group charters, occasional flyers

Alternatives

Some private jet companies offer membership programs and jet cards that require significant upfront investments (circa. $200,000+) and are suitable for those who fly 25-50+ hours a year. Similarly, these companies combine elements of multiple approaches. For example, a provider may offer jet cards along with on-demand charter options, allowing clients to choose the most suitable option based on their travel needs each time they fly.

Assessing your options

Your first port of call should be to discuss your requirements with an air charter broker who will advise you on the best options for you, depending on your lifestyle, plans, and future objectives. Air charter brokers have a network of operators, which means they will help you to identify the best private air travel solutions, tailored to you. You can of course speak to private aircraft operators independently too, but they will be limited to the aircraft and solutions bespoke to their owned fleet. In any case, getting more than one quote will stand you in good stead to observe the market and select the best option at a competitive rate.

Factors influencing the cost of private jet charter services

private jet refuelling getting ready for take off

As we mentioned earlier, there are several aspects that will generally impact the cost of an air charter which we have listed below, so that you can get a quick understanding of how fees are broken down.

  • Aircraft Type & Size: The type and size of the aircraft you choose significantly influence the cost of a private air charter. Larger and more luxurious aircraft tend to have higher operating costs, which are reflected in the charter price. The number of seats, cabin layout, and range of amenities available onboard also contribute to the overall cost.
  • Flight Distance & Duration: The distance to be traveled and the expected flight duration play a pivotal role in determining the cost. Longer flights generally result in higher costs due to increased fuel consumption and potential crew expenses. Additionally, certain aircraft have specific range limitations, requiring additional stops for fuel, which can affect the overall price.
  • Airport Fees & Handling Charges: Landing fees, parking fees, de-icing, and handling charges at airports are additional costs that are often included in the charter price. The fees vary depending on the airport and can be higher at busier or more exclusive airports.
  • Seasonal Demand & Availability: Demand for private air charter can fluctuate based on factors such as holidays, major events, and popular travel destinations. During peak seasons or high-demand periods, prices may be higher due to limited aircraft availability. Conversely, off-peak, or less popular travel times may offer more competitive pricing.
  • Additional Services & Amenities: The inclusion of additional services and amenities can affect the cost of a private air charter. This may include catering, ground transportation, in-flight entertainment options, Wi-Fi connectivity, and specialized requests such as pet accommodations or special dietary preferences. These extras are typically priced separately or as part of a package, and their inclusion can impact the overall cost.
  • Time & Scheduling: Factors such as peak travel times, overnight stays, and specific departure or arrival times may influence pricing. Some private air charter providers may charge extra for flights during certain hours or offer discounts for overnight stays or extended charters.

Potential global changes could also affect pricing models in the future including, green aviation and sustainable fuels, technological advancements in aircraft, and changes in travel habits.

Taking the next step

business man on private jet drinking coffee

When it comes to exploring your options further, there’s really no substitute for speaking to an air charter professional who works with an array of aircraft bookings and trip management on a daily basis.

Get in touch with the dedicated private air charter team at Chapman Freeborn and we’ll be happy to talk you through the process and any finer details, including an estimate, or a full quote.

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