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.
Under American and British accounting rules, a finance lease is generally defined as one in which the lessor receives substantially all rights of ownership, or in which the present value of the minimum lease payments for the duration of the lease exceeds 90% of the fair market value of the aircraft. If a lease is defined as a finance lease, it must be counted as an asset of the company, in contrast to an operating lease which only affects the company's cash flow.
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.
On 1 April 2017, there were 22,368 business jets in the worldwide fleet, of which 11.2% were for sale. 5-year old aircraft residual value level is at a 56% of the list price. A new business aircraft depreciate by 50% in five years before depreciation flattens between years 10 and 15, and the owner of a 15 to 20 years old is often the last, matching luxury cars.