Dubai: Ever wished to one day have your own a private jet? Beyond it being a status symbol, owning a private aircraft not only offers the perk of flying directly to your destination, it also allows you to set your own travel schedule. But of course, acquiring your own private jet is no small endeavour.
“Dubai is the number one hub for private jets in Asia, Middle East and Africa. Last year, private jet traffic increased by more than 10 per cent in Dubai and Abu Dhabi," said Adel Mardini, Founder and CEO of Dubai-based private aviation company Jetex, while adding that global demand for new business jets is expected to remain strong over the next decade, with a stable forecast for 8,500 deliveries worth $278 billion (Dh3.67 trillion) from 2024 to 2033.
"Private aviation witnessed a surge during the pandemic, both in users and buyers, as the wealthy took control of their travel. Although commercial air service on key routes has resumed, we don't see demand slowing. There are many business advantages that come with owning a private jet. They make air travel quicker, safer and more efficient."
The latest generation of private jets fly faster and further, covering almost the entire globe non-stop. They can lead their companies to greater success while maximising their time at home with their families. Simply put, a private jet empowers astute businesspeople to more effectively grow their enterprises
No small endeavour
But of course, acquiring your own private jet is no small endeavour, and financial planners agree, so do private aviation consultants.
“If you’ve been a frequent flyer on private charters, you’ve probably wondered if it’s worth buying your own jet. While it’s a serious investment, how you plan on using it will determine if the purchase pads up your bottom line,” said Mike Flannelly, a Dubai-based private aviation consultant.
“With commercial flights, you always run the risk of cancellations or delays, which is when a private jet flight proves effective for both business and leisure travel. But the question of owning a private plane versus renting one always boils down to which avenue proves more cost-effective to you.”
“There is no hard and fast rule for how much you should be worth to fly private. However, many experts suggest that you should have a net worth of at least $1 million (Dh3.67 million) to be able to afford private jet travel comfortably, as this gives you access to finance or borrow the rest.”
Private jets save you time, but are they worth the cost?
Global statistics reveal that most private jet charters saving between 6 and 10 hours over commercial aviation. “Without needing to wait in lines or on the runway and having more options of where you fly and when you can get there, the time saving can really add up,” added Flannelly.
The cost to rent a private jet varies from $2,000 to $11,000 (Dh7,345) per billable flight hour, according to Paramount Business Jets, a global private jet charter service. ‘Billable’ flight time refers to the time the jet is in the air and does not include taxi time on the runway.
“If the annual cost of chartering a flight or flying commercially exceeds the cost of owning a private jet, or if you spend an average of 240 or more hours in the air annually, owning a private jet might be a good investment,” said Dubai-based wealth advisor Mohammad Shaan.
How would you justify buying or renting a private jet?
Shaan said you can determine if you need to buy a private jet by asking yourself: Are you constantly traveling? Do you want access to a luxury travel experience? Is this an investment for your business, or is it a personal one? “Knowing why you want a private jet is crucial before you invest in one,” he added.
“If you don't have cash on hand, you'll need financing, which can be through a bank loan, a private equity firm, or a leasing company. Also, it’s worth considering buying a pre-owned aircraft to help improve affordability. A thorough study is needed to find out how operational costs are funded.”
Flannelly added that if you decide to go the pre-owned route, calculate all the costs of having the plane customised to suit your taste and whatever maintenance work is required, while adding that it can often take months, so “be prepared to wait awhile before finally taking to the skies”.
When chartering a flight is better than owning one
“While owning a private jet sounds flamboyant, it is very costly, as you are responsible for the aircraft's storage, maintenance, staff, and insurance. Conversely, chartering a plane is much less expensive, especially if you fly less than 100 hours per year,” explained Flannelly.
“So if you want to fly private but owning your own private jet is out of the monetary question, then chartering a plane is an option. It saves the hassles that come with owning and operating your own private jet and saves a considerable amount of money. Like car rentals, you pay when you use it.”
This way you still make use of being able to travel on your own schedule, get access to thousands of airports with your own aircraft, eliminate long airport lines, and save significant amount of time, as they contribute to the overall value of a private charter, aside from comparatively lower costs.
If the annual cost of chartering a flight or flying commercially exceeds the cost of owning a private jet, or if you spend an average of 240 or more hours in the air annually, owning a private jet might be a good investment
While necessary expenses add up substantially, potentially costing you millions every year, these hefty expenses for ownership make chartering a private jet an attractive option. You'll gain the convenience and flexibility of dependable jet travel while incurring more budget-friendly costs.
“You can also choose to rent or lease your plane to other travellers, as a chartered jet can earn anywhere from $4,000 (Dh14,691) to $20,000 (Dh73,458) per hour. So leasing out your plane can help offset the cost of ownership. You can even start to turn a profit over time,” added Shaan.