Sunday, October 28, 2012

The good life ... what is the best way to charter a private jet?

Should high-flyers charter a private jet on an ad hoc basis, tie their money up in a jet card, or buy shares in a fractional scheme?

On a jet card's pros list is convenience: Users don't have to exchange contracts or make payments each time they arrange a flight. One call and they can be off on an impulse flight in a matter of hours, the cost debited from their card.

But mark-ups can be considerable on some cards, with clients effectively underwriting suppliers' businesses. Customers can also be tied in for a given period.

Air Charter Services recently launched a jet card called the Lindbergh Card, which is different, it says, because there is no small print, though it does require at least £50,000 in upfront payment.

ACS does not own a fleet and is therefore free from aircraft mortgages. Jet cards from fleet-based operators, says its founder and chairman Chris Leach, "tend to be full of restrictions, covering every variable - taking into account empty legs... so by and large their hourly rate is forty per cent above cost."

Leach added in an interview that his company had always been the antithesis of the jet card idea, but things changed when some regular customers gave him an ultimatum to create one. ACS eventually did this in association with Erik Lindbergh, an aviation enthusiast whose grandfather Charles was the first man to fly solo from New York to Paris.

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