Want quick access to private aviation but don’t want to own a plane? You have options.
Fractional jet ownership, block charter planes, and jet cards make it easier for people short on time to source aircraft. Any of these programs will get flyers to and from their destinations quickly and conveniently.
Your best-fit approach typically depends on the type of travel you need. In fact, Bill Papariella, chief executive officer of private jet company Jet Edge, says it’s not uncommon for flyers to invest in more than one type of program, especially if they do a lot of flying.
Here’s what you need to know.
Fractional Jet Ownership
Pat Diaz, president of Dynamic Jet Charter, explains fractional jet ownership as “a little bit like a time share. You’re contracted in and typically, owners want to get you in a five-year deal, for 50 hours a year.”
Membership costs vary widely. The biggest names in the fractional jet industry are NetJets, FlexJet, and Wheels Up. They all have different costs depending on the size of planes—which can be four-seat turbo-prop planes to heavy jets—and other factors.
Papariella says memberships can start at $17,000 to get in, and then charge $4,000 an hour to fly for a 25-hour, annual contract on a smaller plane.
There are typically monthly maintenance and management fees, Diaz adds.
“One thing to understand is a plane is like a car—once you drive it off the lot, it depreciates. It’s not like a home,” he notes.
Jet cards work much like a debit card. Flyers buy blocks of time from companies such as Marquis Jet Card (owned by NetJets) for access to private jets. Jet cards start at around 25 hours, with time deducted whenever the card is used.
“These are for individuals who don’t have a lot of time, but don’t need to buy into anything too grand,” Papariella says. They can cost about $200,000 for 25 hours on a midsize plane, for example.
Papariella explained this form of flying: “You don’t own any part of the jet, you’re not guaranteeing the hours—you’re simply going to a high-end operator with multiple aircraft, likely located in the area you’re in,” he says.
What do these aviation programs have in common? The benefit of each is the quick availability of planes, as major operators are likely to source planes with just 4-hour to 24-hour notice, say the experts. Keep in mind that high-demand times, like major holidays, can limit supply.
“The tougher time is that call at 5 p.m. December 23 for a jet on December 24. That’s difficult for anyone,” Diaz says.
Editor’s note: Read Airborne, Part 1, for a look at hobby plane ownership.
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