Meredith Broder, an adviser with the Villanova, Pa., travel company Avenue Two Travel, said that empty leg flights have changed the private jet game. “Rather than have the plane fly empty, air companies or private jet brokers try to sell that route at a discount,” she said. “This strategy helps with fuel costs and puts private jet flying within reach to people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford this luxury and convenience.”
One particular type of operating lease is the wet lease, in which the aircraft is leased together with its crew. Such leases are generally on a short-term basis to cover bursts in demand, such as the Hajj pilgrimage. Unlike a charter flight, a wet-leased aircraft operates as part of the leasing carrier's fleet and with that carrier's airline code, although it often retains the livery of its 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.
Conversely, the aircraft's residual value at the end of the lease is an important consideration for the owner. The owner may require that the aircraft be returned in the same maintenance condition (e.g. post-C check) as it was delivered, so as to expedite turnaround to the next operator. Like leases in other fields, a security deposit is often required.
But for travelers who only want their own chartered plane without having to pay an exorbitant price, there are options like JetSuite’s “SuiteDeals.” The company’s primary business is private jet charters for hourly rates of between $4,000 and $7,000 while “SuiteDeals” are sales of flights called empty legs — routes that jets are scheduled to fly on without any passengers.
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.
If you’re flexible both on when you fly and where you fly, you’ll likely get the best deals, says Trance. Call the company and ask about the cost differences between, say, a Saturday and a Tuesday and see if you can fly into a nearby airport. Fridays and Sundays tend to be the most expensive times to travel, says Justin Sullivan, the co-founder of FLITE Air Taxi. And, of course, last-minute deals can be significant so it may be worth waiting until about 72 hours before you want to fly to find deals, says Trance, though this is, of course, risky.
A single-entity charter is one in which an individual or company charters a plane and bears the entire cost of the flight, so that the passengers do not pay their own airfare. There is no minimum passenger requirement, since the cost is per flight, not per person. Single-entity charters are typically used for business purposes -- for example, travel to meetings and conferences, incentive travel or VIP leisure travel.