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It’s no longer just celebrities, executives and multi-millionaires who use private jets: the whole industry is becoming more flexible and affordable, as Nick Kirby discovers


I’M NOT a fan of airports. I don’t like the queueing, sitting around, getting herded on to the plane not knowing whether you are going to be sat next to someone who wants to yak the whole flight, or who has questionable personal hygiene. Then the endless wait for your case, only for it to be the last one to trundle round the carousel. Even in business or first class, while it’s a little more civilised, you still have to toe the line, and you also have to fly when the schedule says so, not when you want to go. It’s hardly surprising, then, that private aviation is enjoying something of a ‘purple

available to standard jets because of the shorter runways. As Peter Leiman, Managing Director of air taxi service Blink, says: “We can fly to more than 600 airports across Western Europe alone – all you need is 3,000 feet of runway.” Time is key in today’s business world. Imagine that four business people need to get from the Channel Islands to Zurich for a meeting and back in the same day. Scheduled flights from Jersey make it impossible to do this in one day, so not only are you going to have to stay overnight, the likelihood is that you are

flying, how many passengers are you likely to be carrying and what range do you want the jet to have? From turbos and light jets up to heavier jets, the prices will vary from around £2 million up to £30 million or more depending on whether you are buying new or used. And then there are all the extras. “Once you own the plane,” explains Glen Heavens, “there is insurance, compliance and staffing – you need crew after all. The accounting side can be complex, with handling fees, airport fees, air traffic control, fuel and so on. It’s not

patch’. As Glen Heavens, Managing Director of Synergy Aviation, a private aircraft and charter management company, points out: “When you can drive straight up to the plane; board 15 minutes before take-off; fly when you want, to the airport you want; have the plane to yourself, or be in the company of colleagues, friends or family; take any luggage you want; and get off at the other end to a waiting car and no laborious customs checks… it’s no wonder people are getting turned on to the benefits of going private.” The benefits, as Heavens points them out, are pretty clear, but a major one (a by-product of most of the above) is time saved. As Judith Moreton, Managing Director of Little Blue, a private aviation members’ club says: “One of my old colleagues used to say that private jets are a time machine: they give you time back.” And she’s not wrong. Not only do you spend less time at the airport, but flying privately can get you straight to the airport you need without any time-consuming transfers. In some cases it can get you closer to your destination than the main hubs as you can land at airports not

going to have to go via London. So that’s four people, travelling scheduled (with all that queueing and transfers), staying in a hotel and then all those flights back? No thanks – I’ll hop on a private jet, be there in less than two hours, have my meeting and fly home. Done.

And what’s more, depending on the private flight you take, the cost can be not much more than scheduled flights, plus overnight stay, plus meals and so on. But we’ll get to that a little later.

Buy your own

So, if you want to fly privately, what are the options? As Michael Rapley, Managing Director of PROAIR, a Jersey-based company specialising in aircraft sales, management and charters, explains: “For those who have the money, there is outright or fractional ownership. For individual business and personal use, buying a block of hours or booking flights on an ad hoc basis are popular.” For those individuals and companies considering buying their own jet, the choice is staggering, and it makes sense to ask yourself a few basic questions before you start. How often are you going to be

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surprising that many owners choose to use firms that specialise in aircraft management to oversee their jets.” What many people might not realise is many individuals or businesses that own planes allow them to be chartered by other firms and individuals on an ad hoc basis, so they can recoup some of the cost.

Sharing the air Of course, for many – if not most – businesses and individuals who wish to use private jets to get around, the cost of outright ownership is not always justifiable: either they are simply not going to use it enough or because of shareholder pressure on ‘unnecessary’ business expenses. A far more affordable option for many is fractional ownership. As the name implies, here you buy a ‘fraction’ of a plane, guaranteeing you a number of hours in the air depending on the size of the fraction you buy. NetJets pioneered the concept of fractional ownership, and is currently the global leader in this area with the largest and most diverse fleet of any similar operator. As Emily Williams, Director of Sales at NetJets Europe, explains: “Fractional

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