Can’t Find the Right Pre-Owned BizJet? Try Jet Cards

There’s no need to buy the wrong pre-owned business jet out of necessity when Jet Cards can bridge the wait for the right airplane to arrive on the market. David Wyndham illustrates…

David Wyndham  |  06th December 2021
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David Wyndham
David Wyndham

David Wyndham has extensive expertise in aircraft sales and acquisitions, asset management, cost and...

A Large Jet lands at Farnborough Airport UK


Following a tremendous year of pre-owned business aircraft sales during 2021, availability in the market is very slim, meaning you may not find the perfect jet for your need. It can pay to consider using Jet Cards while you wait. Here’s how…

The recent Asset Insight Quarterly Market Report, released on September 30, 2021, says it all:

    The sales volume increased 18% Year-over-Year (YoY)

    Inventory decreased 47%, YoY

    Demand from Q2 2021 to Q3 2021 increased almost 68%

    Only 5.6% of the active turbine business aircraft fleet remained for sale

    Of the aircraft listed for sale, the average days on the market exceeded 400 days (a new record).

As of this writing, the business turbine market has been picked clean of its most desirable aircraft. When quality aircraft come up for sale, they’re being sold for high market prices and may not even be listed for sale – most brokers have active clients waiting for aircraft.

As established already, many of the remaining aircraft have been on the market for well over a year and tend to be older models with higher times. Thus, those in the market for a good quality pre-owned aircraft should plan on waiting a while.

The Attraction of Jet Card/Membership Programs

Waiting doesn’t necessarily mean being grounded, however. For those unable to locate the right aircraft in today’s market, private air travel is still available through charter. With the charter market also in hot demand right now, it may be preferable to focus on the available Jet Card and Membership programs, since one major benefit of these is guaranteed availability of your aircraft type.

With Jet Cards, owners pre-purchase a block of hours at a guaranteed price. Most Jet Card programs start at 25- hours (Memberships have similar programs available).

If you plan to fly 300 hours annually, 75 pre-paid hours on a Jet Card program will last three months. While you search for the right pre-owned aircraft, you can continue to add or renew the Jet Cards while your broker searches for your right match. Even if a year passes before you conclude the purchase of your ideal aircraft, you can continue flying, quite possibly while saving money. Here’s how…

For higher rates of utilization, the financial equation supports whole aircraft ownership. Assuming you will not be chartering your aircraft out (and are thus 100% owner-flying), the break-even point where ownership has a lower total life-cycle cost is approximately 250-300 annual flight hours.

Those lower costs do not accrue immediately, but over the period of ownership. So, while a year of 300 charter hours, paid for via a Jet Card or Membership program, will cost more than the operating cost of your wholly-owned aircraft, the cost advantage of whole aircraft ownership relies on residual values (at resale) and perhaps tax depreciation.

It’s Worth the Wait…

In today’s market, many buyers are not finding the aircraft they want. If you buy what is available, as opposed to what’s best for your requirements, you face two major issues:

  1. You likely will end up with an older aircraft that requires more upgrades and maintenance than the newer model that you wanted, both of which require downtime and money. Some of the following may be needed: Engine overhauls, paint and interior, new avionics.
  2. In some cases, the asking prices of these older aircraft are higher than they historically have been. When you come to sell in a few years, it is likely the market will have rebalanced, and, having bought high you find yourself selling low.

These expensive problems can more-than wipe out the short-term higher hourly costs of Jet Cards for up to a year. Viewed this way, we leave you with the following recommendations:

  1. Work with a knowledgeable and reputable broker who knows the market for the aircraft that you’re looking for. Let them know you’re willing to be patient for the right aircraft and the right deal. They will come through for you.
  2. Purchase blocks of 50- or 75-card hours at a time, flying all that you need to. Book early and add in some ad hoc charter if it makes sense. Repeat, as needed, while you get the deal done for the aircraft you want.

Ultimately, a turbine aircraft acquisition takes time and money. Done right you will have a great experience for years to come.


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David Wyndham

David Wyndham

Editor, Ownership & Operating Costs

David Wyndham has extensive expertise in aircraft sales and acquisitions, asset management, cost and budget analysis and finance fundamentals. With several decades supporting aircraft owners and operators in making fully-informed decisions about their aircraft needs, his expertise spans from the flight department to the executive boardroom.

David is the founder of David Wyndham + Associates, and previously he was a Co-owner and President of Conklin & de Decker where he consulted with large corporations, individuals, and government agencies on their aircraft needs.


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