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.
Purchasing a private aircraft immediately opens a variety of possibilities for business owners, entrepreneurs and sport or entertainment celebrities. Private aircraft allow owners to traverse vast distances quickly, and on their schedule, without the burdens and inconvenience of modern commercial airline travel. In fact, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) likens the use of a private plane to a "time machine allowing you to get to where you need to be directly, efficiently and at a reasonable cost."
Flight departments are corporate-owned operators who manage the aircraft of a specific company. Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, and Altria are examples of companies that own, maintain and operate their own fleet of private aircraft for their employees. Flight departments handle all aspects of aircraft operation and maintenance. In the United States, flight-department aircraft operate under FAR 91 operating rules.
About 70% of the fleet was in North America at the end of 2011. The European market is the next largest, with growing activity in the Middle East, Asia, and Central America. In 2015 the total airplane billing amounted to US$21.9 billion, and 718 business jets were delivered to customers across the globe : 199 (27.7%) by Bombardier Aerospace, 166 (23.1%) by Cessna, 154 (21.4%) by Gulfstream Aerospace, 120 (16.7%) by Embraer and 55 (7.7%) by Dassault Falcon.