In a wet lease arrangement, the financing entity, or lessor, provides the aircraft, and complete crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) to another party at a cost based on hours of operation over a set time period. The lessee pays for fuel, airport fees, duties, taxes and other operational costs. Wet leases generally are established for one to 24 months. (Any shorter period would be considered simply ad hoc charter, which can be thought of as wet lease by the hour or mission.) In the commercial airline world, wet leases are typically utilized to provide supplemental lift during peak traffic seasons or during annual heavy maintenance checks. In the United Kingdom, a wet lease is employed whenever an aircraft is operated under the air operator's certificate (AOC) of the lessor.
As Rachel Raymond from West Orange, N.J., tells it, the day last August when she flew on a private jet ranks as one of the most unreal experiences of her life. Ms. Raymond, and her husband, Daniel, along with their three children, took a flight in a seven-seat jet, a Cessna Citation III, complete with two pilots and a well-stocked bar, from Westchester County Airport, in White Plains, N.Y., to upstate Saratoga Springs. The Raymonds had decided to take an impromptu trip to Lake George because they had found a last-minute deal where they could fly on that route for only $500.
Fliers with flexibility should sign up for empty-leg email lists of companies like Magellan Jets, who regularly send out emails selling discounted flights from, say, the plane of a corporate exec who flew to Los Angeles but is looking to offset his cost of getting the plane back to New York. “I wouldn’t say that the cost of flying private has gone down, but there are new ways of pricing charter that makes it more accessible,” says David Zipkin, co-founder and VP of Tradewind, the service known for semi-private flights in the Northeast and Caribbean. “In our case, we save people money with our shared charters, and we also sell discounted empty legs.”
Aircraft leases are often used by private aircraft operators, as leases provide the same level of access to an aircraft that ownership provides, without the capital expenditure buying a business jet requires. Leases are offered in two main forms: wet leasing, normally used for short-term access; and dry leasing, typically used for longer term leases. Under wet leases, flight crews are provided in tandem with the aircraft, while operators of dry leased aircraft supply their own crews. Combination wet-dry leases may also be offered, as when an aircraft is wet leased to establish service, and once an in-house flight crew is trained, switched to a dry lease.
In the United States, business aircraft may be operated under either FAR 91 as private operations for the business purposes of the owner, or under FAR 135 as commercial operations for the business purposes of a third party. One common arrangement for operational flexibility purposes is for the aircraft's owner to operate the aircraft under FAR 91 when needed for its own purposes, and to allow a third-party charter-manager to operate it under FAR 135 when the aircraft is needed for the business purposes of third parties (such as for other entities within the corporate group of the aircraft's owner).
And FLITE Air Taxi offers a la carte private plane flights for reasonable rates: A flight from Boston to Saratoga, N.Y. costs $541 per person (you will need six people to fill the plane, so $3,250 for the whole flight), as does one from New York City to Martha’s Vineyard and from Block Island to Worcester, Mass.; this does not include federal excise taxes (7.5% of the cost of the flight) but does include other fees.
PrivateJets.com is an online charter marketplace brought to you by Sentient Jet, the largest arranger of private air charter in the U.S. Sentient was founded in 1999 and has over ten years of leadership and experience in private aviation. PrivateJets.com was created to provide a comprehensive online resource for all types of private jet travelers.
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.
Extendible operating lease: Although an EOL resembles a finance lease, the lessee generally has the option to terminate the lease at specified points (e.g. every three years); thus, the lease can also be conceptualized as an operating lease. Whether EOLs qualify as operating leases depends on the timing of the termination right and the accounting rules applicable to the companies.
And typically, you can’t just buy one discount ticket on these planes; they’ll want you to pay for the whole cost of the plane, so you’ll need to find a group to go with you to get the most savings. Plus, if you want to save big, you likely won’t get a brand-new primo jet, as these tend to cost more. And finally, there’s the issue of safety: Private chartered planes tend to get in more crashes than commercial jets — though they are still far safer than cars. Most small-plane accidents were due to pilot error, so call the private jet company to determine how many hours of flying experience your pilot has.
In addition to luxurious cabin fittings and a host of amenities, many of today's private jets also in-flight connectivity systems allowing passengers to connect to the Internet in much the same manner as they would in their own homes and offices, allowing busy CEOs to conduct important business meetings at 40,000 feet. Whether it's visiting multiple clients or offices in a single day, or carrying your family to a top-level vacation destination, private jets provide an incredibly fast, safe, and secure travel alternative for you, your friends and family, and your employees, all in unmatched style and luxury.