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How Much is a Private Jet? 

From glamour and luxury to ultimate convenience, personal aviation offers all that and more. It’s a major and expanding business. According to industry analysis by Mordor Intelligence LLP, the private jet charter services market was valued at $12.97 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach $21.18 billion by 2026.If you want to step up from commercial aircrafts and public airports so you can fly like the stars, get ready for the costs. Although few consumers have the means to purchase an entire aircraft, options that aren’t quite so prohibitive exist.Whole aircraft ownership is typically reserved for the ultra wealthy. The price tag for a very light jet – which typically seats four to eight people – begins at $2 million, according to data compiled by Fly Volato, a company that arranges private jet ownership and flight charters. But the purchase price depends on factors such as size and model.According to Ford von Weise, global head of aircraft finance and advisory at Citi Private Bank, the Gulfstream G650 and the Bombardier Global 6500 comprise most loan requests. They usually range from $15 million to $20 million. These jets tend to hold their value and usually have a 35- to 50-year lifespan, he says.So can you get a deal on a plane that was owned by someone else first? Yes. A 2023 Jetcraft report found that the average transaction value for pre-owned aircrafts in 2022 was $8.2 million.Just don’t neglect accounting for all the associated costs of whole aircraft ownership.”For the hanger and basic maintenance, it can be $500,000 to $2 million a year,” von Weise says. “Fuel can be $1,000 to $2,000 an hour but for larger aircraft it may be $4,000 an hour.”You’ll also need to hire a crew, which will include at least a pilot, co-pilot and flight attendant. Aviation Voice reported that the group of these professionals will run about $215,000 a year.If you don’t have tens of millions sitting in your bank account, you may consider financing your private plane. In fact, even if you do have the cash upfront, borrowing a good portion of the price is common.Borrowing money for an aircraft is different from a personal loan, though, which you would repay in equal installments for the entire term.“The loans usually have five- to seven-year terms,” von Weise says. “After that, a balloon payment is due and the loan will be refinanced again. We see clients borrowing 80% to 90% of the aircraft. Most are very, very good credit wise.”“Financing is easy, the hard part is knowing the aircraft to buy,” von Weise says. “Because of high demand, there has been a shortage of inventory.”If you want to fly private occasionally, you can rent a jet on an as-needed basis, which is called chartering.Depending on the plane and the operator, you will be looking at quite a range of associated costs. For instance, EvoJets charges between $1,200 and $10,000 an hour. The factors involved in pricing include:Billable flight time, which is based on the hourly rate of the aircraft and the number of flight hours.Fuel surcharge, which varies by the type of plane, distance flown and the cost of fuel.Crew fees, including their per diem and hotel accommodations.Landing, handling and incidental fees.Federal excise tax of 7.5% for domestic routes. Combined, a two-day Los Angeles to Aspen, Colorado, trip could run you about $20,317, according to EvoJets.When deciding between the financial commitment of private jet ownership versus private jet charter, compare how much it costs to rent the aircraft on a price-per-hour basis to how often you’ll use your own plane and what it will cost for each trip.“While private jet ownership clients have variable and fixed costs, you are responsible for them as long as you own the aircraft,” says Antonio Ferrara of Talon Air, a private jet charter company headquartered in Farmingdale, New York. “The biggest differences between charter clients and jet owners are travel needs and net worth.”Another alternative is to join a jet club and become a card member. This may be preferable if you want to fly every so often but want to avoid the price surges when availability is low.Instead, you purchase a block of hours in advance, thus securing the best rate, which is also guaranteed. Prepaying can make planning for the costs more predictable.Some private jet clubs charge an annual membership fee, but others, such as Jet Agency, in Naples, Florida, don’t. You purchase hours in blocks of 25, and the amount you pay is largely dependent on the size of the aircraft. Here are some samples: 25 hours for a very light jet, which can take up to four passengers, costs $136,875. That breaks down to $5,475 per hour. 25 hours for a midsize jet, which can take up to eight passengers, costs $213,875. That breaks down to $8,555 per hour. 25 hours for a heavy jet, which can take at least 10 passengers, costs $305,000. That breaks down to $12,200 per hour.The price is still high, but if you share the trip’s cost with the other passengers, it may be doable for a very special trip.According to the company Private Jet Card Comparisons, as of Q3 2023, the average hourly rate for fixed/capped rate jet card programs, including fuel surcharges and 7.5% FET was $11,055 per hour. Here are prices by cabin category: $6,428 for turboprops, seating six to eight passengers. $8,093 for light jets, seating five to eight passengers. $9,351 for midsize jets, seating six to eight passengers. $12,102 for super midsize jets, seating eight to nine passengers. $15,717 for large-cabin jets, seating nine to 13 passengers. $19,195 for ultra-long-haul jets, seating 14 to 16 passengers.The most important thing to do before joining a jet card or membership program, according to Doug Gollan, founder of Private Jet Card Comparisons, is to read the contract, as some can run more than 30 pages.“These are the terms and policies you are agreeing to. The nice glossy brochures show mom and dad at their kid’s soccer game and fluffy prancing up the steps of the jets. But it’s the contract that matters, and too many flyers don’t take the time to read the fine print,” Gollan said in an email. He also noted that many programs are nonrefundable. In addition, Gollan said that low hourly rates can be offset by higher daily minimums, the minimum time you are charged regardless of how long your flight is, whether the 7.5% federal excise tax is included, fuel surcharges, peak days with high surcharges and other restrictions or limited areas where those rates apply.Premier service on many airlines is often fabulous, so you may wonder if paying exponentially more for private is that much better.”A lot of airlines are doing an amazing job to increase service of what you’re getting on board,” says Ashley Les, a luxury travel advisor and founder of Postcards From, a travel-planning firm. “You’ll get great cocktails and amenities. That said, nothing will be to the extent of private, where anything you want is available.”Les says that private jets are a necessity for some of her clients that require very specific flight routes and times. They may have meetings in multiple locations in one day and wouldn’t be able to accommodate them flying commercial, no matter what the class.There are other benefits to flying private, says Sean McClenahan, chief operating officer for Rair Aviation in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, which handles aircraft acquisition, management and charters.“If you’re traveling internationally, there is also a separate customs area for most private terminals,” McClenahan says. “Sometimes the customs agents will even come right onto the charter to do it.”Additional perks of flying private:No downtime, since it’s door-to-door service. Not at the mercy of the airline’s flight schedule, so you can pick and choose exactly what time you want to fly. If you live in smaller cities, you can fly into the private airport and avoid a long ground commute. Many chartered planes have seats that turn into full-, queen- or king-size beds, and some cabins can be separated to resemble individual bedrooms. Flying with pets is less stressful. Both you and your animal can be at ease, as you won’t have to worry about keeping them in their carrier for the duration of the flight.Only you know if the price to travel privately – no matter how you arrange it – is worth the money. But once you start, be careful. Returning to commercial flying can be a tough step down. “There simply is no comparison to a private jet,” von Weise says. “It’s an almost indescribable difference.”