What it really costs to fly privately

Buyers' Guide » 2011
Adding more ­passengers can sometimes make travel by business jet even less e
Friday, July 1, 2011 - 5:00am

What does it really cost to fly privately and how do those expenses compare with the price of airline travel? BJT computed the roundtrip cost of a New York-to-Paris trip for four passengers via airline first class and via a wholly owned and chartered Gulfstream 550. We also obtained jet-card pricing for a Gulfstream GIV-SP or G450 in the Marquis Jet program, which NetJets owns, and a Challenger 604/605 in the Flexjet 25 Jet Card program, operated by U.S. air carrier Jet Solutions. (Marquis and the Flexjet 25 Jet Card program don't offer the GV/G550.) Consultant James Butler of Shaircraft Solutions ran the numbers for the trip in a fractionally owned NetJets G550.

Note that the costs are not exactly comparable. The charter quote, for example, covers two pilots, one flight ­attendant and all handling fees and taxes. The G550 owner would likely have to add $6,000 to possibly more than $10,000 in fees for that trip. There may be additional fees for flying the jet card aircraft outside the U.S. Note also that the owned-aircraft costs include fixed and

variable ­expenses based on flying 413 hours per year, but the price of the airplane itself is not included. Only the charter quote covers the cost of a flight attendant, which is strongly recommended for this size aircraft.

Airline travel and that charter costs compare favorably with those of jet cards and fractional shares. And because all the private options allow you to carry more than four people, adding more passengers can sometimes make travel by business jet even less expensive than first-class airline travel.

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