Why companies fly by business jet

Forget about a company car, the latest perk for executives is a business jet.

Work from the air with a business jet. Image credit: Extreme Photographer/iStock
Work from the air with a business jet. Image credit: Extreme Photographer/iStock

You could enjoy stock options, a golf club membership, or a parking spot near the office when asked about a financial perk, or you could follow the executive pack and ask for a ride in the corporate jet. Some companies are helping senior employees stay at the top of their game by giving them some headspace, 41,000a feet above the ground. Apple even went so far as to state that the only way its CEO Tim Cook can travel – both for work and leisure – is by business jet, according to a regulatory statement filed in December.

While Apple’s decision is for safety reasons, the idea of using private jets for business has been given a bad rap so companies have looked at more economical ways of getting their team airborne.

Why corporate jets are still seen as a good idea

The biggest reason companies still prefer to book an executive jet charter instead of booking their team into business class is for the possible money and time saved in the long term. With a private jet, they are not paying one of their key dealmakers or idea generators to idly stir a cup of coffee in the lounge when they could already be at their destination.

A CEO flying on a private jet can head to the airport 15 minutes before take-off, work on the free Wi-Fi in the sky, and then be handed their luggage by a concierge as soon as they touch down so they can leave the airport in minutes.

The fact that a private jet can also use private airports, means that the traveler can land closer to his or her city of choice. This makes the whole travel process as seamless as booking your Blacklane limousine.The business traveler doesn’t have to worry about transits or baggage collection, just the job in hand.

The 2018 European Business Aviation Association’s report on the economic value of business jet travel noted that faster journeys and the ability to visit multiple destinations in one day saved European businesses approximately 15 million Euros in overnight hotel bills.

A business jet charter is one of the most flexible modes of transport. Once you’ve finished your meeting you can leave, without having to work around an airline’s schedule – your private jet charter will work around yours. This also creates new opportunities for business as a private jet charter gives a company the chance to work between cities that don’t have a scheduled connection or in countries where they don’t have regular flights.

Make the most of your time in the sky. Image credit: iStock
Make the most of your time in the sky. Image credit: iStock

The old school ways of flying private don’t wash with the new generation of industry leaders. Long gone are the stories of CEOs flying with a reserve jet, just in case the first one broke down. The sharing economy has now hit private jet travel, and CEOs are more interested in reaching their destination with ease, rather than whether the bathroom of the executive jet has gold taps.

The new generation of business travelers is still able to consider flying private following a recession because private jet charters are getting cheaper. Numerous private jet start-ups are now giving corporate travelers innovative solutions, with private jet membership clubs, fractional ownership, and business jet rental. They are also encouraging travelers to pay by cryptocurrency to make borderless transactions and use bespoke apps to save time when managing their flights and booking requests.

According to Knight Franks’ 2018 Wealth Report, while 62 percent of flights in the U.S. were private ownership, the majority of private jet flights in Europe were operated by charter jet companies. The need for a company to own a two million USD jet and pay one million USD in upkeep may have something to do with it.

How do businesses charter jets?

Companies now worry less about the plane being covered in its corporate livery and are more interested in reliable service and cost savings, which is why they are now turning to private jet club memberships and rental charters for private transportation.

Check out the apps available to see whether a business jet could suit your travel needs. Image credit: iStock
Check out the apps available to see whether a business jet could suit your travel needs. Image credit: iStock

The old world focused on ownership, the new business world is looking at on-demand services. XOJET is a popular option for business executives with its a la carte services. They own and operate a fleet of 40 jets, with one-way flights from New York to LA costing approximately 30,000 USD. Meanwhile, NetJets give you the chance to own a fraction of a plane, which is then transferred into flight time, according to how large a fraction your company bought. For example, a 1/16 ownership at 600,000 USD gives you 50 hours’ flight time. And the number crunchers in accounts will also be pleased to know about Victor, a private jet company that gives you the chance to compare the prices of the jets available and has also made business travel a little greener with a carbon offset program that comes at no extra cost to flyers.

The private jet card market, which sells flight time by the hour is now so prolific that Elite Traveler magazine founder Doug Gollan, launched Private Jet Card Comparisons, a website that enables potential buyers to compare prices and offerings. One such jet card provider, Wheels Up, which is known for selling empty legs, also has a corporate program priced from 14,500 USD per year.

The furor for private flights is supported by recent figures from Avinode. The online marketplace for charter flights logged 500,000 trip requests in June 2017 – the largest amount in its history. That was until it was reported in Aviation International News later that year that Avinode had managed to shatter those figures a month later, recording 624,000 requests.

Using a jet at the weekend

If you’re tempted to use the business jet in your downtime, remember those perks can be taxed. Conklin & de Decker, an industry leader in aviation research states on its website if you can put a price on any of your perks, namely, your business jet seat, it can be taxed. This also stretches to any family or friends you’ve invited on board, over the age of two. So instead of kicking back in the company’s Cessna, maybe it’s better to book an empty leg with Wheels Up?


Claire Turrell

Freelance journalist Claire Turrell has lived and worked in London, Dubai, and Singapore. When she’s not busy writing, she is riding motorbikes off-road in Cambodia, diving in Oman or learning Muay Thai in Thailand.