Private Jet Charter Demand Holds Steady Despite Rising

Demand for private jet charter flights in North America is steady despite continued price increases. In an analysis of second-quarter data from 2022, subscribers to private aviation buyer’s guide Private Jet Card Comparisons say they plan to fly privately 39.7 hours in the next 12 months. That’s in line with the trailing year’s average of 41.4 hours. However, prices for jet cards and memberships that offer fixed or capped rates and guarantee availability increased by 6%—the average hourly cost to fly privately is now $10,770 per month.

The price increases in Q2 follow a 5% jump in Q1. Since the end of 2022, when the CARES Act nixed the 7.5% Federal Excise Tax charged for domestic U.S. flights, private jet charter prices have been up 28%. Light jets, which typically seat six to seven passengers and are used for flights under two hours, have significantly increased. Hourly charter price is up 44% since Q4 2020 and now averages $8,050 per hour.

The pricing includes base hourly rate, tax, and now fuel and other supplemental charges providers are levying. The jet card pricing is for occupied hours, so only the time customers are on the airplane. Many brokers advertise lower hourly rates, but those prices exclude repositioning flights and other charges.

Still, it means the average private flyer can expect to spend $427,569 on private flights in the next 12 months. At the end of 2020, the same flight hours would have cost $93,890 less or $333,679.

In terms of the open market, the lowest average cost for on-demand charter flights that are priced dynamically dipped slightly in Q2 from $24,894 to $24,367. The pricing is based on hard quotes from brokers for a dozen different route scenarios across light, midsize, super-midsize and large-cabin jets. However, the average of the high quotes increased from $41,464 to $48,375. The fixed/capped rate jet cards and memberships saw the average price for the 12 scenarios increase to $27,551 from $25,744.

The changes show that for flyers who are flexible and are traveling between airports where there is a high amount of private jet flying, so less need for repositioning flights; there are finally some deals. However, for consumers who don’t want to spend time going back and forth with brokers, gathering quotes, and then reviewing the differing terms, fixed/capped rate jet card pricing remains near the bottom of the market with an average fight price of $27,551 versus $24,894. Most fixed/capped rate jet memberships also provide replacement aircraft at no additional charge, whereas dynamic pricing on-demand means if your airplane has a mechanical or can’t perform its flight, you need to get a re-quote.

Still, terms of the fixed/capped rate jet cards with guaranteed availability are getting more restrictive. The number of peak days increased 8% quarter-to-quarter in Q2 and now average 53.2 days. That’s up from 22.8 days at the end of 2019, prior to the pandemic. On these high-demand days, providers often levy surcharges. The lead time to book and cancel is also longer, and providers can shift departure times by as much as plus or minus six hours.

Daily minimums are also increasing. Daily minimums are the minimum amount of time you are charged, even if your flight is shorter. Notably, the average daily minimum for light jets increased 16% in the quarter to 103.9 minutes. That’s 33% higher than the end of 2019, when it was 78.1 minutes.

While the price is being driven by record demand and supply chain, labor and cost issues, recent flight data from Argus TraqPak and WingX shows growth in North America, while still at record levels, is slowing. In its latest report, Argus cut projected growth for July to 0.1%. In its annual forecast, published last December, it projected a 4.7% increase. June flights were up 1.9% compared to its original projection of 6.9%.