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Companies like Surf Air and FLITE Air Taxi can charge less than big-name competitors, in part, because they use different planes — like, for example, single-prop turbo planes — that cost less to operate because they use less fuel than larger jets. “The operational cost can be a fraction of other planes,” says Justin Hart, vice president of Surf Air memberships.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Hong Kong leveraged lease: In Hong Kong, where income taxes are low in comparison to other countries, leveraged leasing to local operators is common. In such transactions, a locally incorporated lessor acquires an aircraft through a combination of non-recourse debt, recourse debt, and equity (generally in a 49-16-35 proportion), and thus be able to claim depreciation allowances despite only being liable for half of the purchase price. Its high tax losses can then be set off against profits from leasing the aircraft to a local carrier. Due to local tax laws, these investments are set up as general partnerships, in which the investors' liability is mainly limited by insurance and by contract with the operator.