Big events like the Academy Awards, Super Bowl, All-Star Games and holidays take the newest and nicest private jets out of the On-Demand Charter inventory.
A string of high profile events beginning this week with the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, the 60th Annual Grammy Awards this Sunday, Super Bowl LII on February 4, then New York Fashion Week (Feb. 8 to 18), the Winter Olympics in South Korea from Feb 9 to 25, Paris Fashion Week, starting Feb. 27, and the 90th Academy Awards on March 4 are putting extra demand on private jet inventory. In addition, there is Valentine’s Day, the Miami Boat Show, the NBA All-Star Game Feb. 18 in Los Angeles and the upcoming NHL All-Star Weekend in Tampa. And don’t forget Spring Training for Major League Baseball starts in Florida and Arizona on Feb. 23. Oh, and of course, lots of folks escaping the cold to beach destinations or looking for some powder on the ski slopes.
According to reports, both the Super Bowl and Davos will each draw more than 1,000 private jet flights. What’s more, WEF draws from the global private jet fleet as attendees come from around the world. According to Aviation International News, Zurich-based Jet Aviation handled 592 movements, 1,320 passengers and 296 conference aircraft at Zurich and Dübendorf last year. What’s more, Davos tends to draw new, big, long-range aircraft such as the Gulfstream 650 and Bombardier’s Global Express.
Quite simply it means more of the fleet is being used. Private jets are used far less frequently than commercial aircraft that can clock as much as 3,000 flight hours per year. Clocking 800 hours or more on a private jet is considered good usage. So during these peak period, there is a higher demand. Blue chip events also tend to put more demand on the charter fleet in a couple ways.
First, most charter aircraft are not owned by a single company. Fleet operators such as XOJET, TMC Jets, JetSuite, Wheels Up and VistaJet account for less than 500 aircraft. Fractional providers such as NetJets and Flexjet see high demand and in some cases may have to go to the charter market to satisfy the demand of their owners and jet card members. Then, the majority of the charter fleet, which is individually and corporately owned private jets made available for use when the owner doesn’t need access, finds more demand from their owners who want to use their jets. In other words, more of the managed fleet is being used by the actual jet owners.
Of the Jet Card companies that use managed or broker fleets, they each limit themselves to the third-party operators that meet the safety and sourcing standards that are part of their program, so while there may be over 7,500 aircraft that the FAA has said can be privately chartered, Jet Card providers are also tapping into the top tier of these aircraft. In other words, you have fractional providers, Jet Card sellers and owners of aircraft flying more than normal.
What it all means is while you can charter on-demand, there is less inventory. So can you still get good pricing? Our studies matching the On-Demand Charter providers versus Jet Cards show yes, you can find better pricing – sometimes, with plenty of caveats. Our Super Bowl study showed you can beat Jet Card pricing about 50% of the time, although last year’s Mayweather vs. McGregor analysis ended price-wise in favor of Jet Cards.
However, the underlying story is the lowest priced aircraft tended to be Light Jets that were over 30 years old, including quite a few options that had no or limited toilet facilities. We also found a high-level of restrictions on pets, bringing golf clubs or skis. Then in terms of commitment, the typical window was seven days, and with some offers, there was an immediate 100% cancellation penalty after booking.
While we don’t advocate Jet Cards to the exclusion of On-Demand Charter, we think high demand periods underscore that if you are flying 15 to 25 or more hours per year, having a Jet Card as part of your private aviation portfolio makes sense. Of course, the key is finding the right one, which is why we provide easy-to-use comparisons of over 250 programs by 65 variables.