Private jet shares sound confusing. Terminology gets flaunted around and it rarely makes sense. This article debunks myths so air charter can work for you.
What is a Private Jet Share?
It’s confusing for anyone new to the industry. How can you own one eighth of a jet? Does that mean you’re responsible for the wing? What is seat sharing? Who sits on top of who and how does that make a difference to the price?
A private jet share can mean different things. It’s a crude amalgamation of concepts in the air charter industry. Boil it all down and it’s a strategy for sharing the costs of a private jet, so it’s more affordable and obtainable.
Private air charters are regulated under FAA Part 135 regulations. This is a set of rules for on-demand operations that dictate how an operator can charter or rent their aircraft. A Part 135 operator can’t charter or sell individual seats on their planes. If they did they would be a Part 121 operation, a scheduled commercial air service with paying customers. In recent years there have been new business models to get around this restriction.
Shared Seats and Private Jet Shuttle Services
Air charter companies have sought to make their flights more affordable by developing seat sharing or shuttle flight options. If the cost of a charter is USD 8000 and there are eight seats, the flight suddenly becomes more attractive at USD 1000 per seat. Essentially, passengers can purchase seats on a private aircraft. This could be on a bespoke, on-demand charter flight, or on a pre-determined scheduled route (a shuttle).
This brings the price down and is most popular on major business routes. You can check out the most popular air charter routes in North America here. To do this the operator must find a workaround for the regulations. This has mostly been achieved through subscription or membership schemes. For example, one passenger buys all the seats on a single flight and shares them with others. Or the operator may be registered as Part 121 for a pre-determined shuttle. Herein lies a problem.
Most shared seats or private jet shuttles require the passenger to purchase a membership or annual subscription. Often they pay this as well as the cost of their actual seat. When other people are flying it’s no longer your charter so many of the air charter benefits have been lost. Naturally, sharing seats reduces flexibility and time saving. Passengers can’t specify the route or take off time. Sometimes the private jet share forces passengers into changing schedule.
Ultimately, shared seats and private jet shuttles are a good way to fly on a smaller budget. But they are not private air charters. In reality they are commercial flights, just in smaller aircraft and using more business friendly airports. Check this article on airport FBOs to understand the benefits they bring to private jet travel.
Fractional Jet Ownership
A more traditional private jet share is a fractional jet ownership. Private jets are costly. The purchase price is already unaffordable to most and then you must consider maintenance, crew salaries, landing fees, fuel, and everything else. It doesn’t seem like good value when the jet isn’t needed every day. Owning an aircraft isn’t going to pay off financially so the next choice is to own a fraction of a jet. That fraction can then be sold at the end of a contract, so there can be some return on investment.
This concept is not dissimilar to a timeshare. You pay for part of a jet then the number of flying hours you receive is equivalent to the share. Most aircraft operate for 800 flying hours a year. So if you have the minimum one sixteenth share this equates to 50 hours in the air. With fractional jet ownership there’s usually a minimum contract of five years, for which you’ll contribute the maintenance, storage and crew costs associated with the plane (in proportion to the share).
This can be expensive. Usually you must pay for the full fractional ownership up front, along with the annual fees. This model tends to mean a price premium for a private jet share. This in-depth article covers all aspects of fractional jet ownership, as well as providing example prices. It should be noted that private jet cards successfully transformed the air charter market because they provided a solution that was cheaper to fractional ownership.
Private Jet Memberships
Jet cards are a form of private jet shares. Passengers pre-purchase a set number of hours on a specific aircraft type (rather than a specific aircraft in the case of a fractional ownership). Buying hours is a good way into the market and it’s cheaper than owning a jet, with membership schemes usually starting at around USD 100,000. This article offers an in-depth analysis of private jet cards, including prices and how they can best benefit flyers.
There are restrictions as the purchased hours can only be used on a specific size and type of jet. Plus their are hot travel dates and premium fees, along with re-positioning and other fees.
A New Style of Private Jet Share
Ultimately the challenge within Part 135 charters remain the same. How to bring the cost down and only pay for the share of a jet that you need? E.g. there are eight seats on an aircraft and passenger only needs one, so how can the cost be divided with others?
Airvel has a new solution to private jet shares, designed for groups of friends and colleagues traveling together. In the past one person had to pay for an aircraft in full – USD 8000 can be a big hit on the credit card and that’s a relatively affordable charter.
With Airvel it’s possible to reserve an aircraft and send a payment link to all the other passengers. Everyone can purchase their private jet share. When all the seats have been reserved the aircraft is confirmed. Note that money will not be debited until payment information has been added for all the seats. So if some passengers pull out the lead passenger doesn’t end up out of pocket. Instead, that lead passenger can search for a smaller aircraft.
This private jet share option comes as standard when booking any air charter on Airvel. Other passengers are automatically sent a secure payment link, along with a reminder when they haven’t paid.
Realizing All the Benefits of a Private Jet Share
The principles are straightforward. Reduce the costs of an air charter by only paying for a share, rather than the whole thing. There are other strategies for reducing the cost of an air charter.
Pay As You Fly
The advantage of scheduled commercial flights is that you pay as you go. There is no need to fork out tens of thousands of dollars just to get started. Just search for a flight, book the best available option, and then fly.
This pay as you fly model is now possible for private jet charters. Search, select, fly. It works exactly like commercial flights in that sense, just with all the benefits of private air travel. With Airvel there are no upfront costs, no annual membership fees, and no sneaky extras. Compare aircraft and prices side by side and choose what’s best for you.
Book Charters Based on the Individual Needs of Each Flight
Owning a share or jet card for a 16-seater jet is great if you need 16 seats for every flight. Having a 50-hour membership for a Boston-based operator is ideal if you are always flying in and out of Boston. Fractional ownership and private jet cards are not a one size fits all. You purchase hours on a specific type of aircraft, usually from an operator with a regional specialism. If you fly the same route every two weeks with the same number of passengers this can be good value. But that’s rarely the case.
Usually every flight is different. There are a different number of passengers, different departure and destination airports, along with a contrast in the essential onboard amenities or cabin style. The easiest way to reduce air charter costs is to pay as you fly and book the minimum that’s needed for each individual flight. That means keeping the aircraft as small as possible, utilizing local operators to reduce re-positioning fees, and tapping into locally available deals.
Booking aircraft on an individual basis provides the best value solution for the majority of air charter customers. But isn’t that complicated?
Airvel: The World’s Leading Booking Engine For Private Jet Charters
Private jet cards revolutionized the industry 20 years ago. Airvel is doing the same today. It’s the leading booking engine for private air charters, allowing anyone to search and book charters on an individual basis.
The booking engine is just like any of the major commercial booking engines. Search for flights between your departure and destination airports on the date of your choosing. Compare different options, in this case comparing different aircraft and their prices. Pay for the flight and get ready to fly.
Airvel is making is possible for anyone to fly anywhere, anytime. No upfront fees, no private jet shares, and nothing more than what you need.