Keen to join the jet set? Make sure you choose the right option when it comes to executive air travel…
Gone are the days when executive air travel was a simple choice between owning your own aircraft or chartering one; so how do you know which option is best for you? Jonathan Gordon, of aviation specialists the Atlantic Bridge Aviation Group, considers the best way to join the jet set…
There’s no doubt that flying in an executive aircraft has major benefits for frequent flyers, whether you’re travelling regularly on business or visiting your second home in the sun several times a year. It offers you maximum flexibility and comfort and saves lots of time queuing at major airports in the UK and overseas.
Using an executive aircraft can also be cost-effective if you go for the right package but given the choices, it’s not surprising that there’s confusion about what’s best for you. There are four main options:
• Ad-hoc on-demand charter: Fully flexible but the most expensive
• Block-hours purchase: Flexible and less expensive
• Fractional ownership: Still flexible, more commitment, many advantages
• Full ownership: Maximum commitment, maximum benefits
If you’re looking for the option with the least commitment then choose ad-hoc on-demand charter. It gives you the freedom to choose an aircraft that suits your trip but it’s the most expensive way of chartering so it’s best suited to those who only travel occasionally or to those for which money is no object.
If you favour charter services but you have a minimum number of hours to fly in a year then consider block-hours purchase. It’s cheaper than on-demand charter but still offers the benefits of using an executive aircraft. You pay for blocks of hours in advance and there’s usually a minimum number of hours you have to purchase. The fee covers all aircraft and crew costs. You’ll also need to pay external costs, such as landing fees. Block-hours purchase gives you the freedom to specify what type of aircraft you want and there are often other benefits which you wouldn’t enjoy with on-demand charter.
Fractional ownership is best if you fly on a regular basis and want the benefits of ownership without all the capital outlay of full ownership. The cost varies depending on the type of scheme you go for. Our AirShare programme offers a low-cost entry level option of a Piper PA-31 Chieftain, which enables clients to own an 1/8th share in an executive aircraft for less than £30,000 while still having the flexibility to use other aircraft types in our fleet at preferential rates.
This low-cost entry level means you can ‘test the water’ without any major exposure. If it works, you continue with the Chieftain or upgrade or both; if not, you can get out with minimal cost. Each 1/8th share on any of our aircraft types – piston, turbo-prop or jet – entitles clients to 40 days’ exclusive use each year and, aside from the monthly aircraft management and overhead fee, every time they fly they only pay direct costs plus 15% contingency.
You keep your share for a minimum term, which varies depending on which scheme you opt for, at the end of which you can sell it. Our AirShare clients keep their share for a minimum of five years and can then renew their contract, upgrade to another aircraft in our fleet, or sell on at a fair market price. We offer a guaranteed buy-back price of 60% of the original investment and a ‘get out’ clause sooner than this if it really is not for you.
Our fractional clients benefit from AOC (Aircraft Operator’s Certificate) rates on fuel, reclaimable VAT and potential tax advantages, not to mention the safety umbrella of using an aircraft operated by a UK Civil Aviation Authority scheduled and charter airline operator that meets rigorous safety standards.
Full ownership and management means you own the aircraft and a company like ours manages it. It’s the most expensive option in terms of capital outlay and should only be considered if your annual demand grows to 200-250 flight hours. You choose the aircraft to suit your mission profile and decide on colour, interior layout and amenities. When you plan your trips, your aircraft is at your call and available at short notice. You can change plans, leave luggage on board or use it to pick up friends. Once you’ve purchased your own aircraft, the more you fly, the cheaper it becomes.
Placing your aircraft under management has advantages: the aircraft is maintained and operated to the highest standards; aircrew are fully-trained and are a financial burden on the management firm, not you; and the cost of ownership can be offset through third-party income. You might want your aircraft to be yours alone with no other people travelling in it but many clients ask their management firm to use their aircraft for on-demand charter to third parties. This generates revenue and maximises your tax benefits.
In our experience everyone’s travel needs are different which is why we’ve developed a software programme which analyses each person’s requirements before delivering a clear and comprehensive set of recommendations. We created this programme because the most important thing is to get objective and honest advice at the outset, leading to a solution that suits all your travel expectations.
For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org , call 01797 322655 or visit www.aba.aero . The Atlantic Bridge Aviation Group has provided commercial aviation services in the UK and worldwide for nearly 30 years from its base at London Ashford Airport in Lydd, Kent.