Where the rich go in pri­vate jets

The Prince George Citizen - - Money - Bloomberg

Heat­waves and protests this month in New York, Lon­don and Hong Kong may have left some ur­ban­ites dream­ing of week­end breaks on iso­lated beaches.

The fastest route to ful­fill­ing those fan­tasies is by pri­vate jet, an ex­clu­sive mode of trans­port grow­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar among the ranks of the su­per-rich.

Pri­vate jet flights climbed almost 10 per cent last year, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis of 30 is­land des­ti­na­tions by real es­tate bro­ker Knight Frank and avi­a­tion ad­viser WingX. Pri­vate jets flew to is­lands in the Amer­i­cas almost 30,000 times, mak­ing them the world’s top hub for non-com­mer­cial avi­a­tion, led by the Ba­hamas, Puerto Rico and the Cay­man Is­lands.

“Pri­vate jets are the path of least re­sis­tance” for travel, said Knight Frank part­ner Alas­dair Pritchard, who ad­vises bil­lion­aire clients. “If you can af­ford it and then ex­pe­ri­ence it, you wouldn’t go back.”

The data of­fer in­sight into the jet-set life­styles of the fab­u­lously rich. In ad­di­tion to su­per-yachts, pri­vate jets are one of the ul­ti­mate tro­phy as­sets of the mega-wealthy, with pur­chase prices typ­i­cally rang­ing from a few mil­lion dol­lars to more than $50 mil­lion. With fuel costs and a team usu­ally needed to man­age the air­craft, merely main­tain­ing a pri­vate jet can be almost as ex­pen­sive as buy­ing one.

More than two-thirds of ar­rivals to the Ba­hamas orig­i­nated in the U.S., Canada or in­ter­nally. With Mi­ami less than an hour away, the prox­im­ity of pri­vate-flight ori­gins in the Ba­hamas high­lights how rich in­di­vid­u­als pre­fer to use jets for short hops. It’s the same in Europe, where air­craft land­ing in Mal­lorca, Ibiza and Sardinia – the Con­ti­nent’s three most pop­u­lar is­lands for pri­vate plane ar­rivals – de­parted from nearby na­tions in­clud­ing Spain and Ger­many.

“All the people who fly pri­vate tell me they wouldn’t from Lon­don to Hong Kong,” Joe Stadler, head of ul­tra-high-net-worth clients at UBS Group AG, said. “To do that one-day trip, they will go pri­vate. In­creas­ing use of pri­vate jets “is a function of how crowded pub­lic air­ports are now. The more crowded they are, the more de­lays there are, and the more cum­ber­some it is to fly from A to Z.”

The Philip­pines, Mal­dives and Bali were the top des­ti­na­tions in the Asia-Pa­cific region, which saw pri­vate-jet ar­rivals in­crease more than 80 per cent, re­flect­ing a wealth boom in which China minted a new bil­lion­aire roughly ev­ery other day. Asia is now home to about a quar­ter of the people on the Bloomberg Bil­lion­aires In­dex, a rank­ing of the world’s 500 rich­est people.

The rich typ­i­cally own jets for con­ve­nience and pri­vacy. Oprah Win­frey told Bri­tish Vogue mag­a­zine last year that she bought one after a fan con­fronted her at an air­port.

For those not willing to buy, the wealthy can own part of a jet or ac­quire time­shares through com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Vis­taJet and NetJets, a unit of War­ren Buf­fett’s Berk­shire Hath­away Inc. About a third of pri­vate-jet own­ers are worth more than $500 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a 2018 re­port by Vis­taJet and Wealth-X.

BLOOMBERG PHOTO

Prospec­tive cus­tomers and avi­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als walk past a Gulf­stream G500 jet in Or­lando, Fla.

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