While today’s connected society allows people to access a vast wealth of information, right at their fingertips, the reality of the Web is that it provides a very incomplete picture of private jets for sale or the private jet marketplace. Indeed, many of the best aircraft for sale never appear on the Internet, as they’re bought and sold among Aircraft Brokers for their clients without ever being listed for sale.
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.
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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.
Some prefer more specific terms that may include a manufacturer’s name along with the aircraft model number, and configuration features such as a distinct cabin layout or upgraded avionics package. However, even using very specific terms when searching for aircraft for sale online may miss some listings due to variations in identification; for example, “Gulfstream G550” vs. “Gulfstream G-550.” More inclusive searches, such as “Gulfstream, large-cabin jet” yield more results.
The key words here are prop planes, turboplanes, and light jets. Prop planes like the Cessna Caravan are popular because they're roomy (the seats are like business class, and often configured face to face). More popular these days are planes like the six- to eight-seater Pilatus PC-12, and KingAirs, which fly faster and feel more like jets. And then you get into light jets like Learjets, Embraer Phenom 300s, and Citation CJ3s, and Hawkers, all of which are sleeker and more streamlined, and can fly for four to five hours, for slightly longer trips.
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.”
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.