When it comes to private air travel, there are four potential ownership scenarios, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The key is finding the scenario that works for your flying style and requirements.
Full, Shared, Fractional Ownership or Charter.
Some will say the decision on whether to buy your own private aircraft comes simply down to how much you fly. At 200 flight hours per year, some brokers will encourage a full purchase while fractional sellers will tell you the benchmark for ownership is 400-600 hours. However, more than hours, the decision comes down to your flying style and a few key parameters.
1 – Control
If you want to control and oversee the whole experience then you’ll want to get your own aircraft and own it outright. Owning allows you to select your own pilots and crew, customize the aircraft design, seating arrangement, amenities and paint colour. If not chartering in downtime, it also means that you can leave your personal items on the aircraft for each time you use it. In a shared ownership scenario you would have less control but still be involved in the decision making process every step of the way. If you are looking for control, fractional ownership and charter would not be good options as the major decisions will be out of your hands.
2 – Access
How quickly, how often and with whom do you fly? Does one aircraft suit all your needs or do you need varying sizes or kinds of craft? Do you need an aircraft on standby, ready to leave at a moment’s notice or is your travel well planned in advance? Factors such as number and location of principal users, very short term availability needs and frequency of one-way flights should all effect your decision to own fully, partially, fractionally or stick with chartering when needed. Owning a single aircraft will allow for very short term availability but may not always be the best craft for your travel needs. Management with Air Partners and access to our entire fleet alleviates some of the challenges. Fractional ownership and charter allows for flexibility in craft and locations but does not allow for an aircraft on standby.
3 – Cost
In terms of cost, both the initial acquisition cost and the ongoing cost per flight hour, which includes fixed operations/maintenance costs, need to be considered. The annual costs of operating and maintaining an aircraft are quite extensive – for jets these costs can range from about $700,000 per year, up to $4m a year. As the owner you have to cover everything, including the unexpected. A blown tire will cost you $2,000-$3,000. A cracked windshield can vary anywhere from $45k-$70k with usually 12-24 hours of downtime. Fractional ownership has a lower initial cost however, based on your ownership percentage, a much higher rate is paid proportionally than other ownership scenarios. As well, with fractional there are several components to your costs in addition to the initial acquisition price. There’s a monthly management fee, an occupied hourly charge and potentially a fuel surcharge. Fractional ownership usually works out to be a higher cost on a per hour basis, but it allows you to only buy the amount of time that you need. Full ownership has the highest upfront investment required however full owners are able to generate income through charter revenue and depending on your typical flight hours per year, has a lower cost on a per hour basis. If you are looking for the lowest cost to start using private air travel, then charter is the best option as you only account for your actual usage and remove responsibility to any other ongoing costs. If full ownership is not right and you are looking for more control and flexibility then charter, shared ownership may be the best option for you. Shared ownership allows you most of the advantages of fractional ownership without giving up the best sides of full ownership.
Regardless of which option is right for you, it is important to always choose to work with reputable companies, partners and aircraft managers. Ensure you complete your due diligence, read the fine print and ask many questions at every stage of the process in acquiring an aircraft. The expert team at Take Flight Group and Air Partners can walk you through your full or shared aircraft purchase or charter needs.