Finding your way in a forest of options

By R. Randall Padfield – July 1, 2011

By choosing wisely, you can save a bundle on private air travel if they can, operators will charge as much for an empty leg as for a chartered leg. in a sense, they’re double dipping, since anything they get for an empty leg is gravy.

Is economizing the new normal? Certainly not for all users of business aviation. But evidence from several quarters suggests that many private-aircraft travelers, including experienced owners who fly frequently, are placing cost higher on their list of considerations.

Take one long-time NetJets fractional-share owner who has often upgraded his Falcon 2000 share to a Gulfstream 500 when traveling to Europe. Recently he flew first class from New York to Paris on Air France, a $16,000 ticket. Why? Primarily for the lower cost, he said, but also because the service Air France provides its first-class passengers met his comfort and privacy needs. This frequent business jet traveler can still well afford to take a NetJets Gulfstream to Europe, which would have cost him about $178,000. “But, you know,” he said, “that is a big difference in cost.”

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