The Sky is the Limit

Did you ever won­der what it’s like to travel on a pri­vate jet? It can be a re­ward­ing, amaz­ing, and lux­u­ri­ous ex­pe­ri­ence


Why a pri­vate jet travel in the first place? If you’re wealthy, why not just buy a jet? The rea­sons against own­ing your own plane are many, but the most im­por­tant one is cost. Ac­cord­ing to Avi­a­tion To­day, the av­er­age bankroll for a jet owner is $1.5 bil­lion. The price of a small pas­sen­ger jet can range any­where from a pal­try $3 mil­lion to a stag­ger­ing $90 mil­lion, or more. But while the pur­chase price may be a ‘one off’ cost, you also have to con­sider where you will base your jet, the crew, fuel and costs to fly it and, of course, keep up with the manda­tory main­te­nance re­quire­ments. When you add those costs up even the very well off just can’t af­ford to own a per­sonal jet. How­ever, there is an ex­cel­lent al­ter­na­tive: Rent one. Rent­ing is a much less costlier out­lay but has sim­i­lar, if not iden­ti­cal, out­come. You get to travel wher­ever and when­ever you want in lux­ury. It’s con­ve­nient, safe and you avoid the scan­ners, pat downs, im­mi­gra­tion lines and crowds at large air­ports. In Sin­ga­pore, the de­mand for pri­vate hire out­go­ing flights isn’t high, ac­cord­ing to Ms. Alex Khalil, who is the com­mer­cial man­ager for Ex­ec­u­tive Jets Asia Group. Ac­cord­ing to her, “The su­per rich here take a first class Sin­ga­pore Air­lines flight. Sin­ga­pore is a ma­jor avi­a­tion hub and SIA serves a wide range of re­gional and in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions.” She also re­vealed that the core busi­ness of her com­pany is that of “pri­vate med­i­cal emer­gency evac­u­a­tions”. They rarely do pri­vate jet char­ters.

Un­der the Radar

How­ever, it seems that in­com­ing per­sonal avi­a­tion flights to the tiny Repub­lic are quite rou­tine. For in­stance, it’s es­ti­mated that over 100 pri­vate jets, from jumbo 747s to small Lear­jets flew into Sin­ga­pore for the Trump North Korea sum­mit. Most of these planes landed at ei­ther the Paya Le­bar mil­i­tary air­port or the pri­vate Sele­tar air­port. Very few landed at Changi In­ter­na­tional air­port so as to avoid con­tact with the gen­eral pub­lic.

Who are the peo­ple that fly on pri­vate jets? Fig­ures re­veal that al­most 20 per­cent of those who use pri­vate avi­a­tion work in finance and bank­ing. Oth­ers that fly pri­vate of­ten in­clude real es­tate firms, in­dus­trial gi­ants, and tech­nol­ogy en­ti­ties. And if you put it down to gen­der, only one in ten pri­vate jet cus­tomers are likely to be fe­male. But why even use a pri­vate jet in the first place? If, as Mr. Khalil sug­gests, first class com­mer­cial travel al­ready of­fers all the lux­ury you might ever want, at a frac­tion of the cost, then why bother with pri­vate air­craft? The an­swer is sim­ple – it max­i­mizes time, ac­cord­ing to The Jet Trav­eler Re­port 2018, which polled the su­per-rich as to why they hired pri­vate jets.

Pri­vate Perks

It is sur­pris­ing but com­par­isons be­tween first-class travel and pri­vate jets re­veal that the first-class op­tion is cheaper and some­times more lux­u­ri­ous. Af­ter all, an A380 has loads of space, of­fers in­cred­i­ble gal­ley-made gas­tro­nomic meals, an ex­ten­sive wine list, and on some flights, even show­ers. A small Lear­jet doesn’t even ap­proach that level of lux­ury. Small jets are cramped, have lim­ited menus, and can’t carry that much lug­gage, let alone of­fer show­ers. So why not travel first class? Sur­vey shows that it’s be­cause Ul­tra-High Net Worth in­di­vid­u­als, those with more than $30 mil­lion in as­sets, don’t like wait­ing around, and like to fly on short no­tice. What’s more, smaller jets can fly into less crowded, re­gional air­fields where clear­ance is of­ten faster and the ul­ti­mate desti­na­tion closer; and it tends to be a lot more pri­vate. With a pri­vate jet, meet­ings that run over are no prob­lem; the plane will wait. So con­ve­nience plays a big role how the ul­tra rich travel. They would also like to main­tain con­trol of their life­style. Many of the su­per-wealthy don’t view pri­vate jet travel as a lux­ury, and rarely even drink the cham­pagne. Ac­cord­ing to an in­dus­try in­sider, one pri­vate jet cus­tomer would only book the flight if the com­pany could guar­an­tee that they could serve Big Macs and French fries dur­ing the flight. So much for gourmet meals. An­other im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion to many trav­el­ers who fly on pri­vate jets is se­cu­rity in terms of the plane’s age and air­wor­thi­ness. There is also the fact that they won’t be car­ry­ing other peo­ple’s lug­gage, which might have dan­ger­ous items in it. A pri­vate jet also al­lows in­di­vid­u­als to fly with­out be­ing eas­ily rec­og­nized. Many well­known ex­ec­u­tives can travel in rel­a­tive se­crecy – a big plus if you’re ne­go­ti­at­ing a con­tract or sell­ing a com­pany.

It’s es­ti­mated that over 100 pri­vate jets, from jumbo 747s to small Lear­jets flew into Sin­ga­pore for the Trump North Korea sum­mit.

To Have It All

But while there are some who just like Big Macs, there are oth­ers who want all that a pri­vate jet can of­fer. Take the pri­vate air­line Crys­tal Skye, for ex­am­ple. It has the world’s largest pri­vate char­ter jet – a con­verted Boe­ing 777 that usu­ally ac­com­mo­dates 300, but on this plea­sure ves­sel there are just 88 pas­sen­gers seats. Crys­tal Skye says that it’s £43,000 an hour char­ter fee will pro­vide ex­pe­ri­ences un­like any­thing else in the sky. The for­ward sec­tion of the 777 has a com­fort­able bar, 24-seat restau­rant and lounge that would make most ground based es­tab­lish­ments look like poor cousins. In the aft sec­tion of the jet there is an up to date gourmet gal­ley and a 200-bot­tle wine cel­lar that is re­ported to be the largest in the air. “The gal­ley is in­cred­i­ble,” re­marked Mr. Jon Jur­gens, a for­mer chef. He was im­pressed at the equip­ment pro­vided on this stel­lar air­craft. They in­clude blenders, ovens, fry­ers, frothers, steam­ers and even a sous-vide slow cooker. “They can grill steaks, poach fish and churn ice cream even at 42,000 feet,” he ex­plained. Skye’s fly­ing restau­rants are sure to please even the most finicky of fliers. But sup­pose you’re not sat­is­fied with just a souped-up Boe­ing 777? Ru­mors on the web abound that one mega rich Sheik from Saudi Ara­bia re­cently pur­chased an Air­bus A380 for his per­sonal travel. One of the pro­vi­sos was that the firm that was sell­ing the plane could cus­tom­ize the cabin in­te­rior to the Sheik’s high stan­dards. Be­sides the bars, bath­rooms, bath­tubs, wine cel­lar and eater­ies, the oil-rich Arab also re­quested that the plane be out­fit­ted with a small swim­ming pool. With pri­vate jet travel, it re­ally does seem that the sky is the limit.



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