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BOARDROOM GUIDE - Business Jet Charter

There is only one truly non-renewable resource – time - observes Gil Wolin. The pace of business today does not permit wasted- unproductive time- and that is just what commercial air travel has become. By comparison- the Business Aviation traveler makes every hour count.

Gil Wolin   |   1st November 2010
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Gil Wolin draws upon almost 40 years’ aviation management experience as an industry consultant....
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Business Jet Charter

There is only one truly non-renewable resource – time - observes Gil Wolin. The pace of business today does not permit wasted- unproductive time- and that is just what commercial air travel has become. By comparison- the Business Aviation traveler makes every hour count.

In direct comparison to commercial air travel- the Business Aviation traveler can fly in secure privacy- and be in constant voice and electronic communication with key executives and clients the world over while in-flight- thereby maximizing the productivity of their time in the air.

Depending upon your travel requirements as well as on your operating and capital budgets- there are several ways to access business aircraft. These range from occasional- as-needed charter flights- to jet cards and fractional shares- to owning an aircraft operated by your in-house flight department.

Charter is the most common starting point for executives considering business jet travel. It places in-flight productivity and time-savings at your fingertips- with no long-term capital or personnel commitment. Equally as important- it is a safe and effective means for evaluating the advantages of Business Aviation to meet your critical travel needs.

Charter also gives you the opportunity to evaluate and determine which aircraft best suits the majority of your travel requirements. There are more than 2-000 jet charter companies in the US alone and numerous providers in Europe. Eastern Europe and Russia is home to many charter firms- and the Middle East is also served by indigenous aviation firms.

You will find in their combined fleets virtually any model of business jet you might be interested in flying- from small cabin/short range to large cabin/ultra-long range. You can thereby match aircraft size and capability to each individual trip.

Selecting the right charter operator requires specific due diligence. After all- you will be entrusting that firm with the safety and security of your key executives – and possibly clients and vendors too. While your peers may be able to provide some recommendations- vetting an operator is best left to the experts: aviation consultants who live and breathe aviation safety and service.

Many consultants provide charter auditing services- and they can thoroughly review any operator you request before you book a flight. Two established consulting/auditing groups- ARGUS and Wyvern- have been doing so for more than twenty years. Each can provide operator reviews and ratings against a variety of safety and service criteria- from regulatory compliance and safety records to operational control and customer service.

Chances are that they already may have a current report on any operator you might be considering. These consultants also can help develop company policy and procedure for authorizing and booking charter flights. They should answer key questions like:

• What is the process to pre-select charter providers?
• What resources- in addition to consultants- are available to identify qualified charter providers?
• Is the operator’s fleet large enough to ensure aircraft availability?
• Is the operator authorized to subcontract to another operator to meet a company flight request?
• What circumstances justify chartering for company business and who is authorized to request charter?
• How does a company establish sufficient oversight of a charter operator to assure that safety precautions are always observed- and that service quality remains high?

Note: there’s no mention of price here. You should address price only after questions of safety and service quality are answered satisfactorily.

Individual trip prices often come down to geography. Charter aircraft are- for the most part- regionally based. That means that you almost always will pay for the aircraft to return to its home base- even if your flight is only one way. It also means that you are best served- from a cost standpoint- to charter an aircraft from an operator based at- or near your trip point of origin.

Alternately- you can turn to one of the many skilled charter brokers our industry offers. These brokers operate no aircraft – rather- they shop each trip from among the universe of available operators and fleets- selecting the best aircraft at the best rate for each client flight. These brokers are- in effect- an extension of the charter operator’s sales department- and their commission is a part of the price quoted to you.

As in any industry- there are the good- the bad and the ugly in charter brokering. Beware the so-called “bedroom broker-” who has little investment or industry knowledge- and cares only about his commission margin- not operator safety or quality. Here again the consultant can help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

And- for those who already operate their own jet- charter offers back-up when you need an occasional additional aircraft to resolve schedule conflicts or to provide transport if your aircraft is down for maintenance. In fact- thirty percent of all business jet charter is flown in support of in-house flight departments.

Charter can turn your travel time into productive time – one trip at a time.

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