How Much Does A Private Jet Cost: Unveiling the Financial Investment
Sep 25, 2023
15 min read
How much does a private jet cost? In short, it depends on jet size, distance flown, ownership vs. charter, fuel surcharges, and much more.
At the high end of the spectrum is total ownership, whereby you own the plane and manage all the incidentals from crew to maintenance. On the other end are one-off charter flights, where you are only responsible for the flight, and the operator manages the rest.
But between these two extremes of private jet costs are several other tiers designed to work for every lifestyle and every traveler’s needs. From private jet charters to jet cards to fractional ownership and beyond, here’s what to expect as a financial investment.
Factors Influencing Private Jet Costs
With a private jet, the total cost doesn’t just boil down to the initial purchase price. Private jet ownership, of course, requires an upfront capital expense for the aircraft as well as ongoing operational expenses that cover the storage, maintenance, insurance, and flight costs.
Aircraft Type and Size
Like buying any vehicle, whether a Mercedes or a Gulfstream, make and model influence sticker price. Within the private jet ecosystem are dozens of manufacturers, from Embraer to Honda, each building out a diverse fleet of jet types.
A very light jet (VLJ) that can fly four to five people for upwards of three hours will understandably cost less than a midsize jet with double the passenger capacity and range. Aircraft type is the number one influence on price.
But what if you are just looking to charter? The size and type have a similar impact on hourly charter price. The smaller the aircraft, the lower the charter price.
Distance and Travel Time
If you are chartering a private jet, you’ll see that prices are determined not only by aircraft type but also by distance traveled. Charter operators bill on an hourly basis. Typically, short-range flights start at $6,000 an hour and increase accordingly based on the size of the jet and amenities.
Volato offers a few ways to save on typical charter prices, including Volato Go! Enjoy the value of fixed-price private flights on our extensive network of HondaJets, catering to West Coast cities of Oakland, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles or East Coast destinations of Miami, Atlanta, and New York.
To some extent, owners must also consider distance and travel time because flight hours impact private jet costs. The more time the aircraft has logged in the sky, the lower the listed price. It’s one reason used private jet brokerages allow you to filter search results by aircraft type, model manufacturer, and flight time.
Empty Leg Flights
Empty leg flights also influence charter costs. Empty leg flights are made for the purpose of aircraft repositioning. Prices for empty-leg flights are often significantly reduced and can help lower private jet charter costs.
Volato offers ongoing Daily Deals on empty leg flights, usually scheduled a week out. Check back regularly for upcoming deals on charter flights.
Additional Services and Amenities
If you charter a private jet, you may notice additional costs itemized on your invoice beyond what’s listed above, such as:
- Applicable fuel surcharges
- Landing, handling, and local airport fees
- Federal excise tax (7.5 percent)
Should you book special catering services while on board, these will also be in addition to your standard private jet rental cost.
Now, what about ownership? How much does a private jet cost with all the additional services and amenities considered?
Owners may appreciate a lower cost per billable flight hour over chartered flights, but they still have to plan for operational expenses beyond those listed above. These can include:
- Maintenance and inspections
- And more.
For those who are choosing the fractional ownership route, many of these expenses are rolled into a straightforward monthly management fee.
How Much Does a Private Jet Ownership Cost?
How much does it cost to own a private jet? Outright ownership of a private jet costs, at minimum, several million dollars for a used aircraft. Prices for a brand-new private jet start at around $5 million for the VLJ class but quickly increase depending on jet class and year of manufacture. At the highest end of the spectrum, a new executive liner will cost well over $110 million.
- Very Light Jet (VLJ) $5–$10 Million
- Light Jet $10–$15 Million
- Midsize Jet $15–$20 Million
- Super Midsize Jet $10–$25 Million
- Large Jet $36 –$50 Million
- Long-Range Jet $47–$80 million
- Executive Airliner $50–$110 Million
Layered on top of the initial investment costs are the ongoing management of the aircraft, insurance, fuel, etc. For example, you can expect to pay more than $30,000 to fuel up a large jet, a minimum of $10,000 per year for annual insurance, and several hundred to several thousand a month to rent a hanger (size and airport dependent).
Let’s not forget the costs associated with crewing and maintenance requirements. If we look at the crew costs alone, that means paying for two pilots and perhaps an extra cabin crew for larger, longer flights. According to Flying Mag and Aviation Voice, employing a full-time crew can exceed $200,000 annually.
But, if full ownership is out of the question due to time or financial considerations, you have options. The costs associated with fractional ownership dramatically reduce the investment and management burden.
Fractional ownership can start with a share as small as 1/16th of an aircraft and offers several options leading up to full ownership. At Volato, we’ve ensured that our fractional owners benefit from unlimited hours, a revenue share, and a brand-new fleet of jets.
Instead of navigating the extra costs associated with jet ownership, an operator like Volato takes over the management for a consistent monthly fee. Here is the example of the cost breakdown for 1/16th of a HondaJet through Volato’s program:
- Purchase Price: $549,000 (1/16th share)
- Occupied Hourly Fee: 50 hours x $4,200 an hour = $210,000
- Management Fee: $5,950 a month
- Total First-Year Cost of Fractional Jet Ownership: $830,400*
*not including any additional fees. Example costs current as of September 2023 and subject to change.
Comparing Ownership and Chartering Costs
As a private jet owner, your travel schedule is paramount. You want to fly when and where you want. This freedom comes with a substantial cost: the cost of full ownership.
Chartering a private jet means no upfront investment beyond the booking but may require more flexibility. You might have to work around the schedule of others, not get your aircraft of choice, and won’t be earning any revenue share.
The core comparison is one of freedom vs. cost. But let’s further break down the differences.
Upfront Costs of Buying a Private Jet
Again, the upfront capital expenditure to buy a brand-new private jet starts at a minimum of $5 million. Larger models with greater range and passenger capacity can cost more than $110 million.
Fractional ownership, as we explored above, requires substantially less upfront investment. A 1/16th share of a Volato HondaJet starts at $549,000.
When it comes to the upfront private jet charter costs, there are none, as the operator owns the jets.
Maintenance and Operational Expenses for Ownership
Additional costs must also be accounted for, covering crew, management, and aircraft maintenance. Prices can easily hit $500,000 yearly depending on storage location, crew needs, and jet type.
Under the fractional model, operational concerns are covered by a management company and charged via a monthly fee.
Should you stick with chartering, these costs are all rolled into the private jet cost per hour (or fixed rate) to fly the jet.
Flexibility and Cost-Efficiency of Chartering
As mentioned, the toss-up between ownership and chartering boils down to financial considerations and schedule flexibility. If you need the freedom to fly when and where you want, you’ll benefit from partial or full ownership.
But, if your schedule has more flexibility and you fly private only a few times a year, sticking with private chartered flights makes sense. This will save you the more significant costs associated with ownership.
Breaking Down the Costs
How much does a private jet cost to charter? Several variables make up the final flight costs.
Hourly Rates (Dynamic Rates) vs. Fixed Rates
Most private jet charters are booked based on hourly rates. Hourly rate, unsurprisingly, is the billable flight time; however, the cost can be quite dynamic depending on market prices. What you pay one day may be quite different from the next.
Fixed rates, on the other hand, are locked in, usually through a jet card or membership program, for an agreed-upon price that does not fluctuate. If you purchased a 25-hour jet card, the price will be the same for the first hour as for the 25th.
Is one more expensive in the long run? According to an analysis by Private Jet Card Comparisons, private jet membership or fixed-rate jet cards are slightly more cost-effective (under most circumstances) than chartering with dynamic pricing.
Fuel and Operational Costs
In today’s volatile market, private jet operators often apply a fuel surcharge to charter bookings. This can (and, according to recent reports, does) add significant costs to the total price of the flight.
Between the time of booking and departure date, if fuel prices spike, operators often have a clause in the booking whereby they can charge an additional fee to help cover skyrocketing fuel costs.
Landing Fees and Taxes
Just like when booking a commercial flight with the airport fees tagged on, private jet airports often apply a landing fee and handling fee. This varies significantly by airport, but you can expect to pay landing fees of between $100 and $500, depending on the destination.
If the scheduled flight cannot take off due to weather or similar circumstances, you may face additional fees for hangarage, de-icing, and other incidentals.
The Federal Excise Tax (FET) applies to all private jet charters. This is a 7.5% tax that applies at the time of purchase and usually isn’t included in the publicly listed price. If you are working with a broker, you can request that they include this in the quote.
Crew and Maintenance Costs
Under most circumstances, charter rates include standard crew costs. With Volato, our charter rates include a pilot and co-pilot. Additional crew, like a flight attendant, can also be included in the quote if requested at the time of booking.
Depending on the flight schedule, negligible fees may apply on top of the per diem costs. These would include standard rates to cover the crew if they need to stay overnight.
There should be no additional maintenance fees as a charter passenger because the operator, not the passengers, is responsible for these considerations.
Finding Affordable Private Jet Options
Full and fractional jet ownership isn’t a luxury available to everyone, which is where charter services step in. But, if you fly charter, are you always stuck with the unpredictable dynamic hourly rates set by market and fuel prices?
There are ways to save for the frequent executive flier — all while still benefiting from flying private.
Membership Programs and Jet Cards
A second option to save on private jet charters is with a membership in a jet card program. Volato offers two programs: the Volato Stretch Card and the Insider Program.
Both ensure fixed charter prices, with the first based on blocks of flight time and the latter as a deposit program that allows you to enjoy capped charter rates when you fly between or within distinct city zones.
Utilizing Empty Leg Flights
Operators typically discount empty-leg flights, sometimes called repositioning flights. These are discounted for below-market rates and help operator
All Volato’s empty leg flights are listed as Daily Deals and available for one to five days before the departure date. Deals, destinations, and prices vary; check back regularly for updates.
Booking Through Charter Brokers
Like a travel agent, a charter broker helps clients shop around for the best possible rate and service provider. Instead of buying directly from a charter operator, a broker opens up a more extensive aircraft selection while providing you with more schedule options. Plus, brokers apply their buying power to negotiate better rates from partners.
How Much Does a Private Jet Cost? Options for Every Traveler
Private jet costs vary drastically from one jet to the next and from one ownership model to the next. If we roll charter prices into the equation, there are an even greater number of variables influencing price.
When cost is no object and your freedom is paramount, private jet ownership starts for as low as $5 million in initial investment.
For those who fly a handful of times a year, private jet charter provides much of the same value without the upfront investment in a jet. Then, let’s not forget the many tiers of private jet travel sitting in between. Everything from jet cards to fractional ownership is designed to suit every budget and every lifestyle.
Flying private is a luxury, yet increasingly, there is a broader range of options opening up this type of premium travel to more and more travelers.
However you choose to fly,
Disclaimer: This post is intended for informational purposes only. Volato is not responsible for omissions or inaccuracies in such information, or for data that is no longer accurate due to delay, change in law, rules, or regulations.