Charter flights having been flying off the hook… or have they?By: Editor-in-chief Lenush Lebedeva
Private jet hires are the top of luxury when it comes to travel.
Covid19 put a damper on travel plans for many, however a few lucky individuals with dual citizenships were still able to cross borders even though airports and airlines were closed. It was the ultimate form of luxury that had suddenly become a necessity… for those who could afford it of course.
During the last two years one would often witness discourse regarding the private charter sector which most of the time was concluded with the fact that it is now more successful than ever, and private plane charter brokers are rolling in cash, as everyone who is able to spend is opting for charter, in order to avoid crowds at the airports. To be completely honest I was under this impression myself, turns out the reality is the farthest thing from it.
Having spoken to a successful charter broker who would prefer not to be named, I learned that private jet hires plummeted as bad as commercial airline fights if not worse. The borders were closed, and the number of individuals with dual citizenships among the clientele was rarer than one would assume. Needless to say, business was not going well. There was no way out for the private sector as it didn’t rely on bail outs, planes are privately owned, and brokers earn commissions based on the flights they sell. Aside from the industry professionals suffering, the charterers also fell on hard times. Due to the crisis even the most affluent were losing money and were unable to spend it, the way they used to. There had to be a solution for this, as the fear of catching the virus was still very real, hence, nobody wanted to risk catching it while on a business trip or other. Jet sharing was always a thing, but in the last two years it became the most popular and most common way of flying private. For those who don’t know – jet sharing is when a few families or individuals split the cost of the flight in order to charter a jet. At a first glance this seems like the best of both Worlds, as sharing costs can result in almost the same amount one would spend on 5 first class tickets on a premium airline during high season, which is basically when most people travel anyways. How genius… not if you ask the brokers.
When it comes to jet sharing, the individuals behind the charters are all affluent personas, who are paying the big bucks so obviously they expect their every need attended to – the problem is there are too many different needs on one small flight. A private jet unless we are discussing a Boeing, is not usually that big. Most of the time the charters are limited to Challengers 650 or 850 or Legacy planes, which most commonly are limited to single section planes and a slightly bigger option with a separate section in the back of the plane, separated with either a door or curtain partition. Obviously, the lack of space can present some issues for top service when sharing the jet with a 2 or 3 families or individuals – remember these people are paying a lot of money. Not to mention the fact, that when chartering a plane, the choice of menu is yours, you can have your food delivered from a restaurant or the company chartering the plane can provide the food based on the standard menu which usually includes a choice of meat, fish and poultry with basic sides such as, pasta, grilled vegetables or mashed potatoes. This presents issues for the brokers as catering to 3 charterers who have equal say in what is to be served, or what time the flight should take off, and other small matters of comforts while on a private plane is virtually impossible to cater to, nor uphold the standard accustomed to charter flights. In fact, every single jet sharing flight results in arguments, delays and even scandalous altercations between the sharers which then the broker, Captain and crew must resolve. It is not a way out in these financially and socially difficult times, it is just an opportunity not to miss out on business completely.
Disclaimer: flying commercial or jet-sharing is safer for the environment.