Charter, Fractional jet flights gain over private flying

By Doug Gollan, August 4, 2021

Part 135 charter and Part 91K fractional flying surged to 54.3% of all North American private aviation flight hours during the first half of 2021

The share of flight hours operated under Part 91 – non-commercial flights conducted for the aircraft owner – continued its decade-long decline during the first half of 2021.

An analysis of Argus TraqPak data by Private Jet Card Comparisons indicates the share of private aviation flight hours in North American conducted under Part 135 and Part 91K continues to grow.

Part 135 is charter flights, including jet cards. Part 91k covers fractionally owned aircraft. The remaining flight hours – flown under Part 91 – are for the non-commercial use of the aircraft owner. That means the aircraft owner cannot receive compensation, except for a few narrow exceptions. These flights are for the owners of the aircraft, individuals, or companies.

The TraqPak data shows charter and fractional flight hours accounted for 54.36% of total private flight hours in North America during the first half of 2021.

That’s an increase from 52.51% for the full year last year and 51.18% for the comparable January to June period of 2020. During the first half of 2019, combined Part 135/91K flight hours accounted for only 48.52% of total flying.

The results from the first half of 2021 are a continuation of a trend that’s stretched for a decade. In 2012, charter and fractional flying accounted for just 43.7% of total flight hours (see table below).

Charter/Fractional Share of Flight Hours (2012 – 2021)

YearTotal Flight HoursCharter/Fractional Flight HoursShare
2021 H1                        2,260,346                                      1,228,79254.36%
2020                          3,493,412                                      1,834,55052.51%
2020 H1                          1,582,730                                           809,97851.18%
2019                          4,506,275                                      2,184,95848.49%
2019 H1                          2,254,165                                      1,093,66348.52%
2018                          4,446,777                                      2,161,36948.61%
2017                          4,415,602                                      2,144,68548.57%
2016                          4,183,472                                      1,948,35446.57%
2015                          4,030,915                                      1,858,95246.12%
2014                          3,923,290                                      1,812,00246.19%
2013                          3,812,905                                      1,749,00545.87%
2012                          3,800,140                                      1,662,47443.75%
Charter and Fractional Fight Hours included Part 135 and 91k; Total Industry is Parts 91, 91k, and 135. Source: Argus TRAQPak

Argus TraqPak data is based on aircraft arrival and departure information on all IFR flights in the US, including Alaska and Hawaii, Canada, and the Caribbean.

The trend towards jet sharing isn’t necessarily bad for manufacturers. Fractional fleet operators continue to take delivery of new private jets.

It also indicates private jet owners may be more open to making their aircraft available for charter when they aren’t using them.

Jamie Walker, CEO of Jet Linx, tells us, the company has seen an uptick in jet owners who want to have their aircraft on a Part 135 certificate to “provide them a guaranteed source of charter revenue for their aircraft to offset their annual expense.”

In its presentations to analysts, Wheels Up has said it believes new inventory for charter and jet cards will come as aircraft owners flying under Part 91 see the opportunity to offset expenses by making them available to rent when they aren’t flying.

In January, Wheels Up’s chief marketplace officer Vinayak Hegde told Private Jet Card Comparisons improved tools would help owners understand when to make their airplanes available and at what price, giving them “more earnings out of their assets,”

Wheels Up and Jet Linx ranked third and fifth-largest in terms of Part 135/91K flight hours during the first half of 2021, according to the latest TraqPak report.

With private aviation reaching record levels in June and July and no let-up in sight, aircraft availability, particularly for recovery flights after mechanical disruptions, is triggering an uptick of complaints from customers.

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