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We have previously touched upon alternatives to full aircraft ownership. Here- Jay Mesinger focuses with more depth on one of those alternatives: charter. 

When we discussed the Mission Profile aspect to buying a business aircraft- we looked at matching mission with equipment. When you think of aircraft category there are many questions about specific product manufacturers and aircraft price to consider- as well as whether the aircraft will meet at least 70% of the overall city-pairs flown.

If it is clear through the Mission Profile work that a mid-size aircraft with six to seven passenger seats and a range of 1-600 nautical miles would work- then the prospective buyer is still left with choices of aircraft to select from (the Hawker 800- Lear 60 or Citation XLS- for example). Chartering each of these aircraft a few times would allow the prospective buyer a great opportunity to understand the different aircraft before making a purchase decision.

However- if the initial Mission Profile work indicates that some 70% of the flights would require a long-range jet and the balance of the work only required a small and/or mid-size jet- then chartering may be a great way to solve 100% of the need- by filling the smaller portion of the flights (see David Wyndham’s article next for an in-depth review of this scenario).

Both examples contemplate a solution that may ultimately embrace whole aircraft ownership. One other very useful reason for considering charter would be for the user whose Mission Profile outcome resulted in a current annual use that did not justify whole aircraft ownership.

In this situation- chartering is an important business tool except without the commitment of whole ownership- making it one of charter’s most useful value-added components. Also- for the company with a lower annual flight-hour requirement with a need for the high efficiency that Business Aviation offers- being able to pay as you go (as afforded by charter) opens the door sooner rather than later to this mode of business air travel. As the user’s needs increase- so charter use can grow without any more of a commitment than the next flight booking.

Matching the annual use periodically against the original Mission Profile will give the Boardroom a real-time view of when the lines for ownership will cross with the use of charter. As they begin to cross based on the charter use increasing annually- the user can plan a transition into full aircraft ownership without feeling pressed to continue using charter service when their needs have out-grown its value.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT CHARTER PARTNER


The idea of charter can be considered with great confidence when it comes to safety and reliability. This mature industry has many safeguards that help to ensure that regulatory requirements for air charter flight operations and maintenance are complied with. There are also several well established auditing companies which visit charter companies and view and review every aspect of their operation. Wyvern Consulting- Ltd. and ARGUS International- Inc. are two such companies.

Finding a charter operator with high audit marks from one of these companies should be a required starting point when shopping for a charter provider. Recently the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) auditing process- in addition to Wyvern and ARGUS- has created a gold standard that enhances further the charter choice. In addition to these seals of approval- the user’s own assessment of equipment used- cosmetic condition of the equipment- tidiness of the pilots- as well as the general look and feel of the operation is vital.

The prospective user should be provided with references from the charter company - and when making inquiries it is important to ask about the charter operation’s reliability- punctuality and invoicing accuracy.

General thoughts of performance coupled with the audit input from the above-mentioned companies should give a panoramic view of the proposed company. Once armed with the confidence of the charter company’s ability to provide the desired product- you can begin to discuss what might be a preferential charter rate based on committing to blocks of annual use time.

Typically somewhere over 75 hours of use annually allows the provider to be able to offer a lower rate that rewards customers for this level of use. Regardless of the attraction to charter- the product can be a wonderful solution for business air travelers who are not quite ready for whole aircraft ownership- but are able to begin to experience the value of Business Aviation. Suffice it to say that the above covered examples are just some of the benefits that the choice to charter an aircraft offers.

 

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