Long lines at airports, delayed flights and shrinking seats and legroom on planes have made commercial air travel an unpleasant chore. Here’s an option: flying by private jet. That used to be a privilege reserved only for the ultra-rich, but more people are flying on private jets now because they’re becoming more accessible. But make no mistake: Buying or chartering a plane can be very expensive.
The cost of buying a private jet
The price for a brand-new private jet ranges from $3 million to $90 million. Though secondhand jets are cheaper, they still cost millions of dollars. For perspective, the Gulfstream G650ER, the company’s flagship private jet, costs a staggering $66.5 million with a range of about 7,500 miles of range. With extras and customization, the price can soar to hundreds of millions of dollars.
There are only about 11,000 private jet owners in the United States. The average age of a jet owner is 63.6 years old, with a net worth of over $1.5 billion. And even with the exorbitant cost of a private jet, most jet owners spend just 1% of their net worth on an aircraft.
Given the costs, it’s easy to see why so few opt for private ownership. The purchase price of a private jet represents only a fraction of the cost of owning one. Maintenance and repair costs depend on the size of the aircraft but typically range from $700,000 to $4 million per year.
The price of a private jet depends on its size, the number of passengers it can hold and the distance it can fly. Because of that, fuel is one of the highest costs for jet owners. Planes with larger fuel tanks for long-range flights require more fuel. For example, the Bombardier Global 8000 has a fuel capacity of nearly 50,000 pounds. The average expense to fill up the tank is $53,000.
The cost to charter a private jet
While renting a private jet is considerably more expensive than flying on a commercial flight, it is still much cheaper than buying your own jet. Flights on private jets are charged by the hour. Prices vary depending on the size of the jet, length of the flight and the number of people on board. The typical cost is between $1,674 and $8,640 per hour to charter a private jet. Renting a jet for an entire weekend can run $100,000 or more.
Unless you spend at least 150 hours a year flying, renting is probably a better option than buying.
How to finance a private jet
If you do decide to purchase a private jet, you’ll need to determine how you want to pay for it. Very few people can afford the cost of a jet in full, so our first recommendation is to get a personal loan.
With a personal loan, you can borrow money from a bank or credit union to pay for the jet up front, then repay the loan over time. However, getting a personal loan for a private jet is much more difficult than getting one for a new car. Even the cheapest private jets can cost millions of dollars, and only select lenders will approve a loan for that much money.
If you approach a bank for a private jet loan, make sure you have a great credit score and a solid financial history. You can also look into getting a secured personal loan, which would require you to put down a valuable asset, such as your home. If you aren’t able to repay your loan, the lender would be able to legally seize your asset.
Some lenders cater specifically to loans for private jet financing, including JetLoan Capital, JetLease Capital and GlobalJet Capital. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association also offers an online loan financing calculator to help estimate your monthly payments.
If you’re not quite ready to purchase a private jet, consider leasing, which has many of the same benefits of owning a private jet. Leasing a private jet works very similarly to leasing a new car, with the option to sign a lease from several months to several years. Most aircraft companies allow you to choose between a few different types of leases:
- Wet lease: The lessor pays for the aircraft itself and at least one crewmember. Wet leases are a more expensive option because of the added cost of paying for a pilot or crewmember services.
- Dry lease: The lessor pays for the aircraft without the cost of a crew, but is required to use their own crewmembers. This is a cheaper option if the lessor already has a pilot and crewmember they can hire for flights.
Leasing a private jet is also a great way to test out different aircraft before making the full investment in purchasing one. And because lessors don’t legally own the aircraft, they don’t have to deal with depreciation, or reselling the plane if they decide to purchase a new one.
Private jet memberships
Another way to fly on a private jet without having to own one is to invest in a charter flight membership. With these clubs, people pay for a single seat on a plane rather than rent the entire jet, but it’s still a very pricey option. For example, Wheels Up, a popular jet charter company, charges members between $3,000 and $30,000 to join and get access to their shared flights. Memberships in these clubs come with some advantages though, including discounted deals for an entire family, or guest passes.
The bottom line
Purchasing a private jet is an enormous expense that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Even if you travel frequently for business or pleasure, it will be decades until the cost of a private jet is less expensive than flying commercially. Before making the investment, it’s important to make sure you can afford not only the upfront costs, but the long-term expenses associated with gas, crewmembers, insurance and repairs.
If you are going to purchase a private jet, think about getting a personal loan from a reputable bank, or explore your options with aircraft-specific lenders. As you would with any insurance, shop around and get quotes from multiple providers to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.