Uncovering the value of private air travel
Private aircraft are time machines. They offer tremendous time savings for businesses, groups and individuals looking to maximize control of their schedule, open up new opportunities, and balance their lives. Private air travel affords a wide range of possibilities from simple small propeller planes for shorter hops, to well appointed business jets and even large airliners that can accommodate groups on longer trips. At ELEVATE we handle private charters of every size for a wide range of clientele.
Different options naturally come with different price points. Private charter pricing is based not only on how much an aircraft costs to own and operate, but on the value they deliver to their users. In this article we’ll lay out the costs of different options and show you how working with ELEVATE can save you money, not to mention time.
All The Benefits Without The Cost of Owning An Aircraft
For those who might make occasional use of a private aircraft, and usually well under 50 hours per year, chartering makes the most sense. You get all the benefits without the ownership burden, which includes having to maintain the aircraft and pay for crew and support infrastructure. Chartering allows you to select the aircraft that is most suited to the length of your trip and number of travelling companions. Generally a small aircraft will do for short trips with only a few people. Conversely a large aircraft will seat more and have the range for longer flights. ELEVATE works closely with you, the customer, to deliver maximum value for your travel needs.
Private Aircraft Hourly Charter Rates
The charter rate is dependent on the specific aircraft and its function. Each aircraft comes with a unique set of operating costs, which include crew, fuel, and maintenance expenses. The most luxurious "fully equipped" private jet capable of travelling between continents will naturally cost more to own and manage relative to a smaller aircraft with shorter range capabilities. These considerations help the owner/operator determine an hourly charter rate for a given aircraft. Here are a few examples:
An 11-seat Beechcraft King Air 350i turboprop aircraft costs over US $8 million to purchase, but will usually charter at just over US $2,000 per hour*. While generally operating flights under 2 hours its size is well-suited for smaller budgets. In some cases the aircraft will be the most viable option for accessing certain smaller airports with shorter runways.
Towards the other end of the spectrum, a new 9-seat super-midsize Bombardier Challenger 350 business jet lists for around US $26 million. Its charter rate is in the range of US $5,000 per hour*. You'll be able to fly well over 3,000 miles depending on the number of guests on board, and enjoy many of the finest cabin amenities while in flight. An aircraft like this is commonly chartered for trans-continental journeys.
The table below provides some guidance as to hourly aircraft charter rates by aircraft category.
Rough Average Hourly Charter Rate By Aircraft Type ($ US)
Consider The Value: Hourly Charter Rate by The Seat
Putting the numbers in perspective, when the price of a private charter is considered per seat the value equation becomes clearer. A typical turboprop aircraft such as the Beechcraft King Air 200 seats up to 8 passengers. If all seats are filled a one hour charter in a King Air can cost roughly US $250* per person before fees and taxes. For larger and more luxurious private jets pricing per person resembles more that of a flight in international business or first class on a commercial airline. A one-way trans-Atlantic flight on a 14-seat Gulfstream IV can be priced as low US $4,000* per person.
The principle advantages of chartering can make the total value proposition compelling. Benefits include the ability to choose the airports, set the schedule, use a private terminal to conduct business, avoid time-consuming security checkpoints and crowds.
The value of private air travel for larger groups cannot be underestimated. The cost of a large private group charter on a commercial airliner can be nearly equivalent to the cost of buying a similar number of seats on some scheduled airline flights. And when space is limited it is not uncommon for airlines to split groups between several flights and possibly over more than one day. Group chartering can be highly advantageous as you gain the freedom of having dedicated aircraft at your group’s beck and call. With a private charter managing the group is a breeze and any unique needs can easily be addressed, often beyond the confines of the terminal building.
What's Included in The Total Charter Price
The typical charter price includes the hourly charter rate inclusive of fuel and crew, and airport handling costs. International fees are added where applicable. Other factors can include the cost to position the aircraft to the airport of your choice if it is not based there, and the time the aircraft remains at its destination.
Additionally, some aircraft owners also place daily minimum requirements on their aircraft in order to reduce ownership and upkeep costs. If you charter a larger aircraft for what is deemed to be a short trip be prepared to pay more than the typical hourly rate. Helicopters, with their unique ability to get you just about anywhere, are commonly charged at higher hourly rates than some fixed-wing aircraft of roughly the same size. With a helicopter you pay for the added convenience and their higher operating cost.
In the US all domestic flights are subject to 7.5% Federal Excise Tax. In Canada flights are subject to GST or HST. Customer selected add-ons are extra.
You'll want an expert like ELEVATE to navigate these kinds of considerations for you to ensure that you are getting the most cost-effective solution to your private air travel needs.
Finding The Best Value In Private Air Charter
There are many ways to get real value out of private charter without going over the top. Knowing some of the pitfalls that can result in over-spending will save you money. Here too ELEVATE’s expertise can help guide you to the right solution.
Age of Aircraft
Consider aircraft age for a moment. A new aircraft will likely have a higher hourly charter rate than an older one, even of the same type. An older aircraft may cost more to maintain, but a newer aircraft may carry higher ownership costs. In these cases small differences in aircraft size may have less bearing. For example, an older but well maintained Cessna Citation V light jet will commonly cost less to charter than a new Phenom 300 in the same category.
One Way Trip vs Round-trip
With the exception of empty legs which we discuss in further detail below, the cost of a one way trip can cost the same as a round-trip if one is not careful. A one-way charter may force some operators to fly the aircraft empty to or from its home base. These "positioning flights" are an added expense. Why pay for flights you don’t have to? Other aircraft operators may have their aircraft "float" from point to point in order to maximize their time. This is where the savings come in. At ELEVATE we regularly secure one-way charters for clients for a fraction of the regular cost by sourcing aircraft that operate on this business model.
Total Duration of Trip
The duration of a trip is another factor to consider. If the aircraft is to remain at its destination waiting for you for more than a day, the cost of accommodating the crew in a hotel, paying their per-diem, and occasionally putting the aircraft in a hangar is charged. If a trip is close to or over one week in duration operators will commonly elect to return the aircraft to its home base in order to offer flights to other customers. Re-positioning legs may add to the total cost of your charter. There is always a sweet spot between trips of short and longer duration, and using the right aircraft operator. ELEVATE can help you find it.
Arranged Charter vs Empty Leg vs Shared Charter
A typical private charter will be charged at the regular hourly aircraft rate. For this the customer has full control over all aspects of the flight including choice of aircraft, airports and schedule.
There are many other ways to charter while saving money if your budget so dictates. ELEVATE offers a range of charter solutions:
An empty leg is offered at discounts of up to 75% off the hourly charter rate. An empty leg flight is one that would otherwise carry no passengers. When someone charters a one-way flight the aircraft will commonly position empty in the other direction. Since these aircraft must move we can negotiate the price of empty legs on your behalf. The potential savings are tremendous. Per seat, empty leg pricing can begin to resemble unrestricted economy class fares on commercial airlines depending on the aircraft type and sometimes even less. Empty legs are a great way to experience flight on a private aircraft for the first time, when you are on a limited budget, or a spur of the moment decision to get away. As the industry continues to grow empty legs have become increasingly popular. At ELEVATE we have access to a global database of empty leg flights and can often find a solution to fit your needs if your travel plans are flexible.
Shared flights are an increasingly popular means to enjoy most of the benefits of private aviation without paying for seats that are surplus.. ELEVATE can arrange a shared charter by listing your flight in a marketplace where others will have an opportunity to buy-in. If you are the primary charterer you maintain full control over the aircraft choice, itinerary, departure time, and more. Anyone interested in joining can then purchase the seats they need. The original charterer has the opportunity to earn back a portion of their flight cost from surplus seat sales.
Seasonal Shuttles and Unique One of a Kind Experiences
We occasionally offer individual seats for sale on existing flights to popular destinations. These opportunities offer exceptional value for money. Check our website frequently.
How Do I Charter a Private Aircraft?
At ELEVATE we are connected directly to the global charter marketplace and can help match your travel needs with the right solution to fit your budget. We can tailor the entire experience for you including ground transportation, in-flight catering, and hotel accommodations. If productivity, time, speed, convenience, flexibility, service and comfort are among the factors that matter to you then ELEVATE is your opportunity to change the way you fly.
Read other articles in this series:
ELEVATE Innovation creates bespoke flying experiences for both business and leisure customers. Clients deal directly with an ELEVATE charter director: a licensed pilot with decades of experience in commercial aviation management and private air charter. We are among the few brokers registered by ARGUS, the globally recognized leader in operational safety and risk management solutions for private aviation. We deal only with top-rated aircraft operators that meet our stringent standards for safety, training, and maintenance.
Book now at www.elevatecharter.com
*Disclaimer: The prices described in this article are approximate, by no means comprehensive, and are for information purposes only. Pricing can depend on many factors. Hourly rates do not purport to include taxes, fees, or customer-selected options.