Can You Afford a Private Jet?

Desmond Rhodes
A private jet parked on a runway.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

A brand new private jet can cost anywhere from $2 million to over $100 million dollars. The amount you spend will depend on the model and size of the plane, how many people you are traveling with, and the timeframe and distance of your trip.

Private jets aren’t just for wealthy athletes or celebrities. Often, people will consider traveling via private jet to save time and avoid waiting at airports, gain access to locations seldom visited by commercial airlines, travel at the drop of a hat, or to fly in style and comfort.

If you are considering using a private jet, you’ll probably want to know why it is expensive, if it is worthwhile, and ways you can travel by private jet that may be easier on your wallet.

Is Buying a Private Jet Worth It?

Buying a private jet should not be taken lightly — it will be a significant financial undertaking. To justify buying a private jet, you’ll need to consider a few things.

The general consensus seems to be that if you spend 150 to 200 hours in the air annually, it may be worthwhile to buy a jet. Anything less than this may not ultimately be worth it to spend on a jet, fuel, and ongoing maintenance. Unless you are planning to travel frequently or travel for business, buying a private jet might not be worth it.

You may be able to save several million dollars by buying a used jet. Similar to cars, jets depreciate in value rapidly. Many times, you can find a jet that is less expensive if it has been previously owned.

If you do find that you can comfortably buy a private jet, you’ll still want to consider several costly ongoing expenses associated with jet travel.

Other Costs to Consider When Owning a Private Jet

Repairs, fuel, and other expenditures will be necessary to keep your private jet in working order. Maintaining a jet will be similar to keeping up a car, but will usually cost more.

Operational costs for a private jet can range from $1,000 to $10,000 per hour, depending on the size of the aircraft and the number of repairs needed to keep it running efficiently. Ongoing expenses for a private jet include:

  • Maintenance and repairs: Cracked windshields, blown tires, and mechanical issues can have dire consequences for a jet. You’ll need to make sure your private jet is operating correctly to avoid potentially larger issues and/or disaster. Additionally, you’ll need to keep your plane fueled up. The price per gallon for fuel will differ depending on your location.
  • Storage: It is unlikely and impractical to think that you will be able to store your private jet on your property. For secure, climate-controlled storage of your aircraft, you will need to purchase a hangar. The cost of hangar storage will fluctuate depending on the size of your jet and which airport you store it at.
  • Crew compensation: The flight crew and pilot will deserve to be paid for assisting you in your travels. Additionally, you may need to go through a hiring process, drug screening, and more to determine the best flight crew for you. Compensation will vary depending on the size of your aircraft and the experience level of the crew.
  • Aircraft insurance: In some states, aircraft insurance may be mandatory. However, just as with a car, having insurance on your private jet can help you cover the cost of any damage done to the plane, and damage the jet has done to any property and onboard crew and passengers. The amount of insurance coverage you will need will depend on the size of your aircraft and its equipment on board.

You may also find that you don’t want to oversee all of these elements of owning a private jet. For a fee, you can pay an administrative service to schedule your aircraft, maintain the jet, monitor Federal Aviation Administration compliance, accounting, and much more.

Other Options for Traveling on a Private Jet

If you’ve come to the conclusion that you aren’t going to buy a new or used private jet, you have several alternatives that are less expensive. You can still fly on a private jet without owning one.

  • Fractional ownership: This option will have you partially own a private jet. By purchasing a percentage of the ownership you can still travel in style, but will share it with one, or several, others. This means your travel plans must work around the other owners, and other usage rights may be limited. You will, however, save on the upfront cost of the aircraft, maintenance fees, and fuel costs.
  • Chartering a private jet: When chartering a flight on a private jet, you are essentially renting the plane. Here, you can have the same flexibility and immediate departure capabilities of a private jet, avoid the airport, and have all the conveniences. Since you are not buying the plane, the cost is considerably lower. The cost of chartering a flight on a private jet varies depending on the size of the plane and the distance you will be traveling (as they often charge by the hour).
  • Private jet membership: A private jet membership can give you discounts on chartering a flight, or just booking a seat on an existing flight. You may also sell your seats on an aircraft as well. The cost of a private jet membership will vary depending on the agency.

Financing a Private Jet

If you want to own, partially own, charter, or get a membership for a private jet, there are several ways you can get financial assistance to do so.

  • Personal loan: It is possible to get a personal loan to pay for the initial cost of a jet, and then pay it off over time. While it might be tougher than getting a loan for a car, there are lenders and banks who will approve this loan. You should do your research on how much of a personal loan you can get depending on your credit score, existing debt, income, and other factors. Remember to make your payments on time.
  • Unsecured loan: If you don’t have great credit, you may be able to use a secured loan to partially or fully pay for a jet. You will have to put up collateral for this loan, such as your car or house title.
  • Leasing: Similar to leasing a car instead of buying it, you can do the same with a private jet. You can lease private jets in hour increments, but will have to pay some cash upfront.
  • In-house financing: Often, private jet companies will work with you on financing, leasing, or buying an aircraft. Pricing and interest will be set by the company.

You should be extremely financially stable when considering owning a jet. In some cases, even celebrities have made the mistake of buying a jet, only to find out that they could not finance it. However, if you want to fly on a private jet, you have other options besides owning one.

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