Currently, approximately 10 percent of the worldwide fleet of private aircraft is for sale. That serves to keep prices down; however, the projected decrease in new private jet deliveries could bring an uptick in transaction prices on preowned aircraft, particularly over the next 2-3 years. Aviation consultants and industry professionals have also reported seeing a recent rise in the number of first time private plane buyers brought into the market by today's bargain prices for private jets.
Finance leasing, also known as "capital leasing", is a longer-term arrangement in which the operator comes closer to effectively "owning" the aircraft. It involves a more complicated transaction in which a lessor, often a special purpose company (SPC) or partnership, purchases the aircraft through a combination of debt and equity financing, and then leases it to the operator. The operator may have the option to purchase the aircraft at the expiration of the lease, or may automatically receive the aircraft at the expiration of the lease.
With a dry lease, the lessor provides the aircraft without crew. These arrangements are favored by leasing companies and banks, and require the lessee to put the aircraft on its own AOC and provide aircraft registration. Dry leases usually cover a term of no less than two years. Lessees must comply with conditions regarding maintenance, insurance, and depreciation, and other requirements that may be affected by geographical location, political circumstances or other factors.
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Finance leasing is attractive to the lessee because the lessee may claim depreciation deductions over the aircraft's useful life, which offset the profits from the lease for tax purposes, and deduct interest paid to those creditors who financed the purchase. This has made aircraft a popular form of tax shelter for investors, and has also made finance leasing a cheaper alternative to operating leases or secured purchasing.
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.”
Ms. Broder frequently books private jets for clients and gets a weekly list from several private jet companies of empty leg availability for the coming week (other agents specializing in private jet travel also get similar lists). Recent flights included an $8,500 trip from Naples to Cleveland on a Beechjet 400A, a plane that seats seven people, and a $6,500 trip from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Colorado Springs on a Learjet 45XR, accommodating eight fliers.
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.