Up in the Air
It’s a crowded (air)space: More than 3,000 companies market private flight. (Eighty percent of them fly fixed-wing aircraft, the rest helicopters.) With so many choices, finding the right firm requires method and insight. The list below is a small sample, but each company we’ve chosen reflects the market segments they chase and has an excellent reputation among its clients and within the field.
Most air medical or air ambulance services for executives operate a helicopter fleet, including the largest such provider, Air Med. In contrast, Angel Air targets the long-distance medical charter market, with a fleet of 10 corporate jets capable of carrying up to nine passengers, including full medical staff, and flying nonstop for 3,000 miles, equipped with full satellite communications and even entertainment suites, all with a price guarantee.
Contact: Dr. Stephen R. Ellison, 800.785.3670, angelairinternational.com
While national fractional-ownership companies such as NetJets may provide sheer quantity and variety of aircraft, boutique providers such as Avantair simplify their cost and operations structure by flying a single type of aircraft, in this case the Piaggio Avanti. The Avanti is a turboprop that cruises at jet-like speeds of 450 mph, with a typical range or city pairing connecting New York to West Palm Beach. Fractional-ownership programs often make sense if flight needs surpass 50 hours per year, and can offer tax advantages, such as depreciation.
Avjet focuses on the largest-cabin and longest-range aircraft market. Its star product is the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), a model based on the B-737 airliner but reconfigured to serve more than a dozen executives with meeting space, high-end catering and private sleeping quarters.
Contact: John Rodriguez, 800.342.8538, firstname.lastname@example.org, avjet.com
One point of difference for CitationAir is that the firm is owned by the Cessna Aircraft Company. Not surprisingly, that means the company exclusively flies the highly regarded Cessna Citations. More important, CitationAir suggests that its relationship with the parent company helps CitationAir lower costs and allows for a broad range of client programming. CitationAir has a variety of programs and offers easy links to overseas private air travel though a relationship with European firm Air Partner.
Contact: Jenna Podberesky, 877.692.4828, citationair.com
DELTA PRIVATE JETS
With an Air Elite Jet Card, Delta Private Jets customers decide on a trip-by-trip basis whether a private business jet or a scheduled Delta Air Lines flight at discount—or both—suits their mission. An initial deposit of $100,000 locks-in rates for two years with access to all sizes of aircraft and “all-in” pricing that includes fuel, starting at $5,000 an hour for a light jet on off-peak days up to $9,500 an hour for a 14-passenger jet with a range of 5,000 miles.
EvoJets specializes in reducing travel expenses through various strategies, from flight sharing to empty leg charter to jet card hedging. The company offers a wide range of flight options, from smaller, turboprop aircraft appropriate for remote or shorter-length airfields to super-heavy luxurious planes used for long-distance trips. Founded in Aspen, Colo., evojets is particularly experienced in handling trips through high-altitude mountaineous regions.
EXECUTIVE JET MANAGEMENT
Executive Jet Management sells blocks of hours at a discount for a specific type of aircraft, a good option for executives flying more than 50 hours per year and mainly on round-trips between big cities. But the company also serves passengers who occasionally need more than one aircraft per day or trips to and from several cities. EJM, part of NetJets, taps a fleet of 160 aircraft spanning 45 types in all sizes and capabilities.
Contact: Jordan Vogel, 877.356.5387, executivejetmanagement.com
Flight Options offers fractional shares of ownership in its 100 aircraft spanning five types, with a unique expertise in the super-light Phenom 300 jet, but also has experience in the leasing market. A lease option often fits a client who wants to get aloft with only a first month’s payment and a refundable security deposit, a time commitment of as little as 24 months, and no risk of declining residual value of the aircraft.
Contact: Matt Doyle, 877.703.2348, flightoptions.com
Helinet specializes in flying senior corporate executives, with six types of rotorcraft for charter, but also targets specific industries such as filmmaking and government contracting. Services include catering and ground transportation by limousine, flying unique equipment and extending its geographic reach with international partners.
FLEXJET BY BOMBARDIER
Flexjet offers a variety of formats, from on-demand charter to full ownership, so you can find the best fit based on the number of hours you expect to be in the sky. But the firm’s focus is a charter card to prepay usage with a flat entry fee and fixed hourly rates with no fees or co mmitments. Flexjet flies only Bombardier products, from the Learjet 40XR for up to six passengers at 51,000 feet—well above turbulence and congested airline routes—to the 12-passenger (plus cabin attendant) Challenger 604 and 605, with nonstop coast-to-coast or international range and sleeping accommodations for up to five passengers. Most models are equipped with Iridium satellite phones, DirecTV and Internet.
JetSuite flies the four-passenger, 450-mph Phenom 100, a light, fuel-efficient jet built by Embraer of Brazil with an interior designed by BMW. JetSuite travels anywhere in North America but specializes west of the Mississippi, with the best rates available in its primary service areas of California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas. Clients who place an initial deposit of $25,000 earn rates of $3,000 an hour; you can also pay as you go at a retail cost of $3,500 an hour. Under either option the Phenom 100 can be reserved for full days.
As the first and now the world’s largest program offering a fractional share of ownership in a specific executive jet, NetJets can leverage its 800-strong fleet and extensive client base in the U.S. and Europe to offer a guaranteed repurchase of shares at market value, less a remarketing fee. The smallest share available is one-sixteenth of an aircraft, or 50 flight hours per year, and the minimum time commitment for holding a share is two years for light jets and three for large-cabin aircraft. Fractional ownership can provide the tax benefits of depreciation and the convenience of guaranteed availability. NetJets also offers the Marquis Jet card, which gives cardholders 25 hours of flight time, prepaid.
THE PRIVATE JET COMPANY
The Private Jet Company helps clients on either the acquisition or sales side of full ownership, providing knowledge of niche markets and an inventory of used aircraft from at least eight major brands of business jet. (Its three most popular are the Gulfstream, Hawker and Learjet.) The Private Jet Company assesses clients’ needs for cabin capacity and amenities, typical trip profile and tax or balance sheet to achieve maximum depreciation or lower operating expense, and provides legal, financial or regulatory consultation from initial interest through the first flight.
Contact: Daniel Jennings, 561.247.5381, theprivatejetcompany.com
Sentient Jet features a membership program with several tiers of investment; each guarantees access to its fleet with as little as 10 hours notice and fixed hourly rates. Its flagship plan requires a deposit of $150,000, which is refundable at any time and never expires. Clients can gain discounts by choosing a membership program that limits their choice to the Hawker 400XP, Citation Excel or Citation X, or that limits their flight hours to a certain category of jet, though both discounted options place an expiration date on the funds and restrict refunds.
Contact: Kevin Vaughan, 781.763.0216, sentient.com
STRATOS JET CHARTERS
A broker for some 5,000 U.S.-based aircraft of all types, Stratos occupies a segment known as empty-leg charter. One-way “empty legs” are filled at a discount to similar charter rates because an aircraft would otherwise return to its base or position itself for another client’s trip with no paying customers. Stratos Jet Charters also offers a membership program beginning at the $100,000 usage level.
While XOJET can arrange on-demand charter for more than 15,000 routes with no up-front cost, or sell blocks of 50 annual flight hours, it promises to cost 25 percent less than comparable programs at NetJets. The signature XOJET offer is tailored to executives flying the U.S. coast-to-coast: Fly between select West or East Coast points at least three times per year, and “Coast2Coast” removes blocked-out days, ferry charges and program exit fees. Clients can choose a Bombardier Challenger 300 for up to 10 passengers, or the 600-mph Cessna Citation X, which can deliver up to eight passengers from Los Angeles to New York in four hours. All XOJET cabins are equipped with high-speed wireless Internet.
Contact: Chuck Stumpf, membership manager, 877.599.6538 or 650.676.4780, xojet.com