Operating leases are generally short-term (less than 10 years in duration), making them attractive when aircraft are needed for a start-up venture, or for the tentative expansion of an established carrier. The short duration of an operating lease also protects against aircraft obsolescence, an important consideration in many countries due to changing noise and environmental laws. In some countries where airlines may be deemed less creditworthy (e.g. the former Soviet Union), operating leases may be the only way for an airline to acquire aircraft. Moreover, it provides the flexibility to the airlines so that they can manage fleet size and composition as closely as possible, expanding and contracting to match demand.
Fractional ownership of aircraft involves an individual or corporation who pays an upfront equity share for the cost of an aircraft. If four parties are involved, a partner would pay one-fourth of the aircraft price (a "quarter share"). That partner is now an equity owner in that aircraft and can sell the equity position if necessary. This also entitles the new owner to a certain number of hours of flight time on that aircraft, or any comparable aircraft in the fleet. Additional fees include monthly management fees and incidentals such as catering and ground transportation. In the United States, fractional-ownership operations may be regulated by either FAA part 91 or part 135.
Because jet charter is not priced on a per person or ticket basis, it is not likely that it would be more cost effective for a group of 10-15 individuals to charter a jet compared with flying via scheduled airline service in coach or first class. Even if the total cost for a charter trip is split among 10 people, the cost each person would cover would still be significant.
Under American and British accounting rules, a finance lease is generally defined as one in which the lessor receives substantially all rights of ownership, or in which the present value of the minimum lease payments for the duration of the lease exceeds 90% of the fair market value of the aircraft. If a lease is defined as a finance lease, it must be counted as an asset of the company, in contrast to an operating lease which only affects the company's cash flow.
Some prefer more specific terms that may include a manufacturer’s name along with the aircraft model number, and configuration features such as a distinct cabin layout or upgraded avionics package. However, even using very specific terms when searching for aircraft for sale online may miss some listings due to variations in identification; for example, “Gulfstream G550” vs. “Gulfstream G-550.” More inclusive searches, such as “Gulfstream, large-cabin jet” yield more results.
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.