Fractional jet membership is the partial ownership of a private airplane. The shares are most often brokered through a company that maintains the aircraft, employs the pilots and support crews, and takes care of the day-to-day operations. An owner first pays an upfront, pro-rated fee that reflects the fractional share involved (common fractions are 1/16 and 1/8). This ensures the owner a specific amount of in flight airtime. The owner also pays a monthly maintenance fee which is used for the upkeep of the plane, fuel, taxes, licenses, and other expenses related to owning a plane.
Pros of Purchasing Fractional Jet Shares:
- Benefits of ownership without the work: Other people keep maintenance logs, negotiate hanger and airport fees, and take care of the small things.
- Avoid traumatic commercial flights: Commercial fliers, even those who pay the extra dollars for first class, are treated to invasive airport security, rising costs and surcharges, tighter restrictions, and smaller seats. Much of this is avoided as private aviation is handled differently than commercial flights.
- Increase in safety: Companies that offer jet shares usually maintain a newer fleet than commercial carriers.
- Extra perks: Some companies offer concierge services, catering, and individualized media choices.
- Up and downgrades depending on travel plans: Some jet shares offer optional up or downgrades to planes more suited to the traveler’s needs at the time. Although some people will buy a jet share for the consistency of the model they are purchasing, the possibilities are there.
- Addition of airports: Commercial flights are regulated to a limited number of airports around the world appropriate to the size and security required. Flying private increases the number of available airports considerably.
Cons of Purchasing Fractional Jet Shares:
- High degree of commitment of both time and money: With the upfront payment, monthly dues, and other possible charges, an person has to be very sure that a fractional jet share is the right fit for them.
- There is some exposure to depreciation of the initial capital.
- Many fractional jet share contracts are long term and may not have exit options.
- Hidden costs: This could be anything from “dead-head charges” to penalties for not enough advance warning for the plane. These should be covered in the contract to the smallest detail.
Although fractional jet shares are relatively new to the aviation market, the flexibility and convenience often outweigh the costs. Interested parties should examine all the advantages and disadvantages of jet shares and seek counsel when considering a contract.