When considering the options available to fulfill your private aviation travel needs, you might receive recommendations about the various methods of travel available by someone that has never personally evaluated your travel needs. This is a frequent occurrence in the aviation industry, as there are many sales people that try to oversimplify what is really a more complicated question – “Which private jet travel option is best for me?”
Trying to answer this question with as little confusion as possible has led to the creation of a guideline that really works for only a few people in certain circumstances. In fact, there are so few people whose needs are met with this formula that it has become a myth.
The guideline states one should choose between aircraft charter, jet cards, fractional or whole aircraft ownership based on a simple formula of hours flown per year. The rule of thumb goes something like this:
1. If you fly privately less than 25 hours per year, you should charter.
2. If you fly privately between 25 to 50 hours per year, you should buy a jet card or block charter.
3. If you fly privately between 50 and 200 hours per year, you should use fractional (guess which marketers invented this rule of thumb?)
4. If you fly privately more than 200 hours per year you should buy your own aircraft.
The problem with this simplistic formula is that it does not take into consideration your unique needs and assumes that your desires are the same as everyone else’s. To make a fully informed decision, you need to consider many more variables than just the number of hours flown per year. For example, if your business has a need for 20 hours of flight time per year, but the flights all originate in different cities, your needs will conflict with the recommendation to use charter if your local charter operator doesn’t have aircraft based in these cities.
If you fly 100 hours per year, but most of the trips originate from one airport or region and come back within a day or two, again this recommendation won’t make the best fit for you, as a fractional share or jet card will be too expensive as their model is based on higher, “one-way” pricing. Of course there are numerous other considerations as well, such as the convenience factor, tax benefits, availability, and so on that can’t possibly be considered within the confines of a one-size-fits-all guideline.
When approached for assistance in choosing the best private travel option for a client, I first determine the client’s needs. How often does the client fly? Are most flights one way or round trip? Do all trips begin and end at the same place? Does the client ever have need for multiple aircraft at the same time, perhaps flying multiple teams in different parts of the country to various locations simultaneously? What is the client’s tax situation as it pertains to depreciation of the asset if a share or whole aircraft were purchased?
Are there passive income issues? What is the client’s most pressing concern when it comes to traveling? Does the client prefer to have a relationship with the flight crew or keep them at arm’s length? Next, a full mission analysis is conducted, which includes a financial review of the various options available. On rare occasion the guideline will match my recommendation, but most of the time the guideline leads one to more expensive options than necessary.
Don’t be fooled by the myth that your needs can be met by a guideline. With a thorough, in-depth analysis of your travel needs, a consultant can structure one or several private travel options in combination to create a solution that truly fits your needs.