The key words here are prop planes, turboplanes, and light jets. Prop planes like the Cessna Caravan are popular because they're roomy (the seats are like business class, and often configured face to face). More popular these days are planes like the six- to eight-seater Pilatus PC-12, and KingAirs, which fly faster and feel more like jets. And then you get into light jets like Learjets, Embraer Phenom 300s, and Citation CJ3s, and Hawkers, all of which are sleeker and more streamlined, and can fly for four to five hours, for slightly longer trips.
JetSmarter, around since 2013, is an example of a player in the private aviation space selling shared flights. The company operates on a membership model: Fliers pay a minimum of $15,000 a year and book seats on already scheduled flights through the JetSmarter app, which lists more than 150 domestic and international trips a day. Trips under three hours are included in the cost of the membership while longer ones are an average of $300 a person, according to Sergey Petrossov, the company’s chief executive officer; most flights have an average of eight to 10 passengers.
Paul Cappuccio, who lives in Greenwich, Conn., and is the general counsel for Time Warner, flew to Miami on Blade most weekends last winter and plans to do the same this year. “It’s such a relaxed way to fly, an elegant experience and so hassle-free,” he said. While not necessarily budget-friendly, Mr. Cappuccio said that Blade hits the sweet spot on price. “It’s not all that much more than a full-fare first-class ticket, but a small fraction of what it would cost to fly on a chartered private jet,” he said.
One particular type of operating lease is the wet lease, in which the aircraft is leased together with its crew. Such leases are generally on a short-term basis to cover bursts in demand, such as the Hajj pilgrimage. Unlike a charter flight, a wet-leased aircraft operates as part of the leasing carrier's fleet and with that carrier's airline code, although it often retains the livery of its owner.
Are these lower prices the reason more Americans are chartering planes? Virtuoso’s statistics indicate that the number of private charter trips increased by 10 percent from 2014 to 2016, and statistics from the research company Euromonitor show that the number of passengers in the United States who chartered planes increased from 4.88 million in 2013 to 5.32 million in 2016 (this number excludes helicopter charters).
On 1 April 2017, there were 22,368 business jets in the worldwide fleet, of which 11.2% were for sale. 5-year old aircraft residual value level is at a 56% of the list price. A new business aircraft depreciate by 50% in five years before depreciation flattens between years 10 and 15, and the owner of a 15 to 20 years old is often the last, matching luxury cars.