July 24, 2017
How Much Does It Cost To Fly By Private Jet? We Look At The Options From $59 To $10 million And Up
The rich are getting richer. Commercial airline service is getting worse as is the airport experience. Yet today, you can at least get a taste of the private aviation experience for as little as $59, albeit on an airplane with seating that more closely resembles the type of regional jet you find flying with the regular airlines. However, you do bypass the commercial airport terminals, showing up for your flight just 15 minutes before departure and you’ll be on your way within five minutes of landing.In the late ‘90s Richard Santulli, with the backing of Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway, made fractional ownership and NetJets required jargon at upper end country clubs and board meetings. By selling shares in planes instead of the entire aircraft, it meant a person worth $50 million could now afford to buy a 1/16th share in a $35 million Gulfstream 450 for several million dollars upfront, possibly financed. Once only the purview of billionaires and Fortune 500 CEOs, smaller companies and entry level Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals could tool around on luxury private jets of all sizes and prices.
It wasn’t always this way. For a long time the private aviation industry was considered staid with not a lot of options. Back in the late last century, it was commercial aviation that was a petri dish of new ideas. Remember People Express, Midwest Express, Legend, MGM Grand Air, New York Air, Air Florida, Southwest Airlines and others. Now, with the domestic U.S. commercial market being strangled by a few mega carriers that control over 80% of the market, innovation is coming from the private aviation sector.
In the early part of this decade, the smart money was on the concept of the air taxi, which was being propelled by a new generation of smaller private jets, today referred to as VLJs, or Very Light Jets. Former American Airlines chairman Robert Crandall and People Express founder Donald Burr backed a venture called Pogo that never got off the ground. Another, called, DayJet, foundered at birth. The symbol of VLJs, the Eclipse, sans toilet, is no longer in production although Embraer, Cessna, HondaJet and others have refined the concept into a niche with staying power. However, the air taxi concept never took off.
In the past 10 years, jet cards have become the soup du jour. Over 50% of the more than 25 providers tracked by Private Jet Card Comparisons, a website I started as an offshoot of research I did writing stories about private aviation for Forbes.com, are new to the jet card market in the past decade. And while jet cards reduced the entry point of regular private jet travel to $50,000 or $100,000 per year, entrants like Surf Air pushed it down to about $20,000 through its Netflix-like monthly membership model. JetSmarter with its shuttles and empty legs dragged the price of entry down to $5,000 per year and more recently JetSuiteX, an off-shoot of JetSuite, enables you to get a taste of how the upper half of the one percent does it for as little as $59 per flight.
So how rich do you have to be to fly privately? Below is a quick overview of various private jet travel options and what type of bank account you will need.
Private Aviation Scheduled Flights and Shuttles
How rich do you have to be?