Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, flying privately rather than with a commercial airline gives you more flexibility. It doesn’t need to break the bank, either. Instead of owning your own plane, you can charter an aircraft by contacting a private-jet operator or brokerage who can offer bespoke itineraries and expert advice. The BACA (The Air Charter Association) has a list.
Most airports accept private aircraft. London City Airport has a Private Jet Centre. Or else, charter an aircraft from London Biggin Hill, which has airport-based operators. Alternatively, TAG Farnborough private airport in Hampshire is dedicated to business aviation.
Apart from stepping off a jet and feeling like a president for a day, there are multiple benefits to flying private. “It gives customers the ability to arrange everything to suit their needs. You have control over the schedule, routing and the type of aircraft that you fly in. This has led to private flying becoming a necessity to many businesses and wealthy individuals alike,” says Catherine Buchanan, Chief Commercial Officer at boutique jet charter firm Vertis Aviation.
Flexibility is key, as you can call up a broker and have your aircraft ready on the tarmac to take you to your destination for that urgent meeting. Most firms have customer service 24/7 and smart phone technology that lets you book and manage flights online. Otherwise, conference groups can choose economy or VIP options, avoiding transfers and security queues.
Vertis Aviation can arrange charters to and from anywhere in the world; from Paris to LA, for example, or Moscow to New York. The privately-owned company is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland and has offices in London, Dubai and Johannesburg. “In the UK, Vertis is based out of architectural gem TAG Farnborough Airport, the aviation playground of the super-rich, and finds luxury jets for its elite clientele,” explains Catherine. Other companies also have aircraft worldwide and fly to airports in various countries. Sizzling summer escapes include Porto-Vecchio in Corsica and the Greek island of Rhodes.
Jet charter companies may offer part-ownership of jets. This means you can buy a share in an aircraft according to the flying hours you require. Other providers deliver on-demand private jet charter, with no membership fees, and you can request a quote.
If you shop around there are low prices to be had. Sometimes costs can even rival commercial airlines for group travel. The time to hunt for deals is in peak summer season, when there are more empty-leg flights available.
If an aircraft has been booked on a charter from A to B and it has to fly back to home base with no passengers on it, it’s called an empty leg. The owner/operator may often loan out the whole aircraft at a discount (there are no tickets in private aviation). You can always book a seat on a national carrier for the other leg of the journey.
Each jet chartering company will have access to its own fleet. Some aircraft, such as the Lineage 1000E from Brazil-headquartered commercial jet manufacturer Embraer, has five cabin zones and a master suite, with a walk-in shower and queen-size bed. Vertis Aviation “offers a fleet of luxurious aircraft ranging from a Challenger 350 up to an Airbus 319CJ. We strive to offer unparalleled service, which is why our clients can enjoy food prepared by a two Michelin Star chef on our Boeing Business Jet,” says Catherine.
Vertis Aviation has a high-end range of jets. Roll up in a chauffeur-driven car and be greeted as you mount the ladder up to the cabin. “We ensure that the aircraft meets your personal requirements as well as tailoring the onboard service with personalised catering and entertainment,” says Catherine.
Catherine says, “A fully trained flight crew are provided with chartered aircraft. Most pilots are recruited from the air force or commercial airlines to ensure strict standards are adhered to.”
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