The lifetime cost of owning versus renting a private jet

We asked Air Charter Service, a global leader in aircraft charters, about the cost to own a private jet versus the cost to hire a private jet. As it turns out, you don’t necessarily need to be a private jet owner to travel like one.

AvBuyer  |  23rd April 2018
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The AvBuyer editorial team includes Matt Harris and Rebecca Applegarth who contribute to a number of...

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A flight attendant welcomes guests to a red carpet leading up to a private jet

Private jet owners can fly on a whim, whether to a meeting or a weekend getaway. However, you don’t necessarily need to be a private jet owner to fly like one!

Many people dream of buying a private jet when they finally make it big. There’s an undeniable glamour to private jet travel, but its true benefits are privacy and convenience. Private jet owners can fly anywhere on a whim, whether to a business meeting or a last-minute getaway. They can access far-flung airports, leave at any time and make multiple stops in a day. The benefits are endless.

However, you don’t necessarily need to be a private jet owner to fly like one. Flying by private jet charter offers the same convenience as ownership without the hidden costs and hassle.

Air Charter Service, a global leader in aircraft charters, offered the following advice on the cost of owning versus chartering a private jet. Here’s their take.


How much does it cost to buy a private jet?

From tiny turboprops to customized luxury executive airliners, you can spend as much money as you’d like on a private plane. However, deciding what you actually need is another story. Private jet cost varies based on the age, size and condition of the aircraft, among other factors. Thankfully, well-maintained private jets have a long lifespan. This means you can buy a used jet in very good condition for a far lower price than a new one. You can find a turboprop like a Beechcraft King Air B200for $1.5 million, a light jet like a Cessna Citation CJ2+ for $3.3 million, or a heavy jet like a Bombardier Global 5000 for $25.9 million.  New jets can range from $2 million to $60 million or higher.



What is the right aircraft for you?

When deciding which jet is best for you, first consider how many passengers you’ll need to carry as well as the amount of luggage they’ll bring along. Those who fly frequently for golf trips or ski vacations will need more space for their gear.

Size dictates how many passengers you can bring, of course, but it also determines how far you can fly without refueling. Smaller planes will need to make stops on longer flights, which adds time and operational costs.

You might be able to find a small used jet at a great price. However, there are considerations to be made when purchasing a used jet: new jets come with a warranty to cover any replacements or repairs during the first few years of ownership (exact terms vary by manufacturer).


What are the additional private jet costs?

Once a jet is out of warranty, maintenance fees will be paid out of the owner’s pocket. The cost of planned and unplanned maintenance can be hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars annually. If a major unplanned repair needs to be made, the cost can be high.

What’s more, the plane will not be operational during this time so you will need to charter or fly commercial.

However, most used jets, depending on age and model, can be covered by a good top to tail maintenance program to cover against further wear and tear, and can be also be upgraded to include the latest interiors, connectivity and avionics. Although these are a serious financial investment, many companies offer their jets out for charter to help offset operating and ongoing maintenance costs, placing their aircraft with a management company - thus addressing issues of pilot and crew salary and often benefitting from savings in overall fuel costs, for example that are passed down by the management company.  Like cars, most aircraft depreciate in the first couple of years so if ownership is the right option for you, there can be advantages to buying an older jet model.

Aside from aircraft maintenance, there is a long list of private jet costs that owners must cover. Among these are safety inspections, aviation insurance and hangaring (parking for jets).

Private jet owners also need to pay to reposition their plane when they fly one-way. Alternatively, they can make their plane available for others to charter in order to cover that cost. Those who rent out their aircraft also need to pay for a company to manage it.

Of course, you want to be sure your plane looks fabulous, too. Many owners decide to customize the interiors, opting for custom bedrooms, furniture and bespoke carpeting. A full nose-to-tail interior renovation can cost tens of millions of dollars or more.

Due to the many private jet costs associated with ownership, a prospective user should weigh up their mission needs very carefully against the projected costs, and the solutions that could help offset those costs .

The exception is for the most frequent flyers, some can own, fly 150 hours and offset costs by offering their aircraft for charter the other 250 hours - jet ownership really isn’t a one-cap-fits-all scenario.

According to Forbes, owning a private plane is only necessary for those who fly 400 hours or more each year. But experts writing for AvBuyer would recommend that for companies with a specific mission profile, anything over 150 hours could be sufficient to consider the viability of jet purchase while making their aircraft available for charter when it’s not in use.


Should I consider fractional ownership and jet cards?

For private jet travelers who fly hundreds of hours per year but not enough to purchase their own jet, there are other options. Many companies offer fractional ownerships and private jet cards that let you pay for the hours you fly.

Companies that offer fractional ownership include NetJets, Flexjet and CitationAir. With these arrangements, you buy a portion of a jet (typically starting at 1/16) that includes a set number of hours per year. However, those hoping to fly over peak times will need to give advance notice and the costs can be quite high.

As an alternative to fractional ownerships, many private jet travelers purchase a jet card. Jet cards allow travelers to prepay for their flight hours at a discounted rate. Air Charter Service offers a Jet Card called Empyrean. This private jet card gives members the ability to fly to any destination in any private jet category. Card holders have access to a concierge 24/7 and can book in just moments.


How much does it cost to charter a private jet?

Private jet charter passengers are able to benefit from the ease of private jet travel without the high costs and hassle of ownership. For this reason, more private jet travelers are choosing to charter than ever before. According to Forbes, millennials entering the market still value the privacy and time-efficiency that private jet travel affords, but are less interested in owning a private jet.




While charter passengers do pay for such expenses as fuel and pilot and expenses, they do not incur the maintenance fees that are usually tax deductible for owners.

The cost to hire a private jet varies based on the length of the trip and the size of the aircraft. While this may sound overwhelming, it is actually one of the greatest advantages of flying by private jet charter. Charter passengers can choose the most cost-effective aircraft for every journey they take.

For example, if you’re flying from New York to the Hamptons with your partner, you can charter a small piston propeller like a five-seat Piper PA-34 Seneca from New York Teterboro to Montauk at approximately $2,000. The following week, you can fly from New York to Chicago with your entire team in a luxurious 14-seat Challenger 850 at $29,000. Private jet owners do not have that sort of flexibility, unless they charter as well.

As an additional consideration, certain airports cannot accommodate all planes. Sometimes the aircraft is too large and cannot land on a short runway, like in St. Barth’s or at some ski destinations. Or, the plane is too small and will be uncomfortable for a long-haul flight or require stops to refuel. For that reason, many private jet owners need to charter a plane or fly commercial when their personal aircraft cannot accommodate the route. Thus charter can supplement ownership in many cases.


What is the annual cost to hire a private jet?

For these reasons, the annual cost to hire a private jet depends entirely on your personal travel plans. When you fly by private jet charter, you can choose the most cost-effective plane for every journey you take. You can also take advantage of sale prices like “empty leg” flights. Empty legs are available when a client charters a one-way trip and the plane needs to be repositioned to its base. As the plane would be flying empty otherwise, private jet charter passengers can take advantage of these flights at greatly reduced rates.

If purchasing a private jet sounds like the best option for you, browse AvBuyer’s private jets for sale. Or, to find out the cost to hire a private jet for your next journey, visit the Air Charter Service website.

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