Business aviation was originally based on a simple model. A client wanting to travel by private jet would contact a broker who would then identify the best offers from the airlines. The client made their selection and the broker guided them through the whole process, from initial choice right up to takeoff.
Low-cost air travel has been an undeniable commercial success for commercial aviation. Since its emergence in the United States in the early 2000s, it has democratized travel with its accessible prices. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), budget airlines transported 31% of the world’s total scheduled air passengers in 2018.
Today, some market players are trying to adapt this model to business aviation. The significant increase in competitors and the emergence of new digital tools have changed the game in recent years. In the face of increased competition, companies in the sector have been quick to offer low-cost options. But what do these new business models mean for customers? What is the cheapest private jet?
Below AEROAFFAIRES untangles the most important things to know for high-quality, low-cost flights. Having a clear understanding of the market and what is available to clients is key for making a well-informed decision on private jet rental.
Cheapest private jet options
There is a range of options available for clients looking for the cheapest private jet whatever their needs, from one-day round-trips for business owners to holidaymakers
Empty-leg flights are the perfect solution for traveling by private jet on a budget. An empty leg flight is one that has already been booked and paid for by a first customer. Following the first leg, the plane occasionally has to return empty to the original airport. A second customer can take advantage of this by booking the jet for the return leg, sometimes at very affordable prices.
Obviously, there are some drawbacks to empty leg flights. for example, they might be canceled at the last minute and the second customer is not able to make changes to the schedule or destination.
Jet card membership
Some private jet airlines offer prepaid cards for unlimited private jet travel. The advantage of this solution is the fixed access price. However, despite its undeniable success in the United States, it has not been so popular with European customers and it is no longer offered by any European companies.
Online private jet booking platform
Some brokers have decided to introduce the low-cost angle to online private jet booking platforms, linking passengers and operators directly. The service can be less comprehensive than a traditional broker, with less thorough aftercare and more demanding sales conditions. In addition, extras such as in-flight meals and alterations to flight details are not included in the price, so clients should bear these hidden costs in mind.
Sharing a flight
This involves booking just one seat on a private jet. As the client is just paying one ticket price, this reduces the price of the flight. The concept is essentially carpooling for bespoke aviation but it has not had much popularity in Europe as the appeal of business aviation is its tailor-made solutions for travelers who are more than happy to pay for it.
Additionally, shared flights have much in common with regular commercial transport in that passengers reserve their seats on an airplane operating on a regular schedule, making it lose some of its shine.
New flight-sharing platform
Some flight-sharing platforms for business aviation have appeared on the market recently with the goal of doing for private jets what Uber did for taxis and linking travelers, pilots and aircraft owners on the same platform. This cost-sharing offer is attractive because it is inexpensive. In reality, this solution does not fit into the legal definition of business flight in public transport. It essentially consists of traveling on tourist airplanes, with narrow cabins and a very limited range.
Similarly, the aircraft owners don’t always have the Air Operator Certificate (AOC). This can have serious repercussions in terms of flight insurance, a risk that companies cannot take with regard to their employees. In fact, neither the pilot, nor the owner of the aircraft, nor the platform which puts the parties in contact, bear the responsibility for the flight.
AEROAFFAIRES refuses to offer this kind of flight to its customers for their air travel.
What does flying in a low-cost private jet involve?
Those business aviation players offering low-cost private travel differ significantly from the traditional players in the sector. Reserving a ticket is even simpler than for a passenger plane.
Everything billed à la carte
Low-cost airlines and charterers cut back on services to reduce costs. With such low margins, they take advantage of an à la carte proposition where any additional service is billed. On-board catering costs the client extra as do any modification to the flight details, whether for the passenger list or the schedule.
Customer satisfaction is no less important in low cost, but above all, it is the search for the cheapest private jet that always makes customers come back.
Tougher cancellation conditions
To make their fleets profitable, low-cost private jet airlines fly their planes more than conventional operators. If a flight is canceled shortly before takeoff, the airline will consequently suffer serious losses. This is the reason for the operators’ large cancellation fees. While it is often possible to negotiate or cancel these fees with conventional companies, it is very difficult to do so with the cheapest private jets.
Commercial services with limited customer service
The attractive low prices attract more customers and mean charterers receive more requests for private jet flights. To deal with it, the sales advisers respond to all quotes quickly but without always checking the request details. The service is no longer as personalized as with traditional brokers who generally oversee your trips from start to finish, carry out visa formalities, or even check the details involved in business flights (airport timetables, crew availability, pilot qualification for certain destinations, etc.). The large volume of quotes can lead to errors and omissions from the low-cost charterer resulting in a low conversion rate.
Likewise, a low-cost operator does not generally take care of finding another solution in the event of a last-minute mechanical hazard while a traditional broker would normally find another way for the customer to make their journey successfully.
More demanding sales conditions
The sales terms and conditions from low-priced operators are particularly demanding compared to conventional brokers’ more flexible ones and often the discounted price for a flight is offered for a limited time before its price goes up. Similarly, when an offer is confirmed, the contract must be signed as soon as possible and then the payment conditions are also more stringent. Because of the narrower margins a low-cost broker requests payment a few days before the flight while a traditional broker can advance the amount or stagger the payment after the theft.
The low-cost model is not really suited to the business aviation model as when the aim is to offer tailor-made solutions, it’s difficult to streamline services and costs. Traveling by private jet remains quite expensive because it requires many safety guarantees. The flight advisor’s expertise, pilots’ professional qualifications, up-to-date aircraft maintenance, adequate insurance policies, and approvals such as the Air Operator Certificate are all safeguards where there is no room for compromise when it comes to the safety and good progress of a flight.
The best solution for traveling at the best price and under the best conditions is often still to call a broker like AEROAFFAIRES. We are committed to finding the most attractive private jet offers. We fly on private jets operated by companies with an Air Operator Certificate and we favor the best air operators, fully covered by our insurance.
If you are looking for offers for the cheapest private jet, there are very affordable round trips between Paris – Le Bourget and Geneva. For 4 or 5 people, you can fly at a very competitive price of around 4,000 euros or less than 1,000 euros per passenger.