Let’s see… we have had the jet cards and the fractional programs and, most recently, the Uber of private jets and yet none of them are doing particularly well – if they are doing at all!
Since when were businesses in business solely for the benefit of their patrons – with no regard for turning a profit? OK! We all know that doesn’t exist so why would anyone think these programs could possibly be such a great offering to you, the customer?
The bottom line is that we all have been taught, at some point – either in business or through advanced education, that great businesses are innovative. There is definitely truth to that; however, in a service industry that caters to particularly discerning customers, we find safety and customer service generally trump innovation. On-demand, private jet charter works for who it is intended to work for. It isn’t intended to work for everyone – plain and simple!
Often times, some hopeful (often with little or no aviation experience) comes up with a get rich idea, secures funding, and hires great sales people who convince customers why their program is so amazing by appealing to their ego and emotions. It is no wonder that, publicly traded, Avantair left 600+ fractional owners grounded due to funding issues. Now, just two weeks ago, FlexJet/Flight Options moved forward with an offer of voluntary separation packages as part of their transition to an on-demand charter business and now, yesterday, Blackjet abruptly ceased operations. What happens to all the customers who paid for memberships? I can only guess they sold them by emphasizing their ties to celebrities like Ashton Kutchner, Jay Z, and Will Smith. We really shouldn’t be surprised. Nonetheless, let us again explore why the various programs are eventually exposed and, ultimately, fail.
Let’s look at two scenarios. The first, a light jet program in a Nextant, costs about $325,000 for 50 hours. In addition to the primary pricing there are monthly management fees and a per-hour fee for each hour flown. For 50 hours, that runs about an additional $185,000. When you divide that by 50 hours you ultimately pay $10,200 per flight hour. If you are paying that rate with a charter company (for on-demand charter) for a comparable aircraft, you should really re-visit who you are doing business with. The all-in cost per hour for the Nextant, including all fees and taxes (except catering), should be about half of that.
Second scenario, a heavy jet (Gulfstream 550), is about $3 million for the same 50-hour per year program but based on 5 years (a total of 250 hours). Flying 50 hours each year, you end up paying an additional $416,000 per year for the management fees and per-hour charge (still not including fuel surcharges and federal taxes). That breaks down to roughly $21,984 per flight hour before taxes and fuel surcharges – HOW IS THAT SUCH A GREAT DEAL?
One of the most well-known, and reputable, companies specializing in jet cards offers two programs based on your requirements for the newness of an aircraft (year 2000 or newer costs extra). For a 25 hour card we have the following standard (not the newer aircraft option) pricing structure:
- Light Jets: $124,825 (or $4,993 per flight hour)
- Mid-Sized Jets: 167,775 (or $6,711 per flight hour)
- Super Mid-Sized Jets: 227,050 (or $9,082 per flight hour)
- Heavy Jets: $285,825 (or $11,433 per flight hour)
While these prices include Federal Excise Taxes (currently at a rate of 7.5%), taxi time is billed at 12 minutes per leg (in addition to flight time). Bermuda, Caribbean and Mexico flights incur a 10% premium charge on the hourly rate. Catering, ground transportation, and international fees are billed separately, and peak travel days also incur a surcharge of 5%.
The ultimate result is that it is not a more cost-effective option than traditional charter and, in most-cases, their back office operations aren’t really much different, if at all, than a traditional charter operation. In fact, most jet card programs source supplemental lift from the exact same FAA Part 135 operators as any other charter company (management companies and brokers both). The bottom line is that you have to find the best option for who you choose to work with; a company who can meet your needs and provide exceptional service without regard for whether or not they are a big name brand and/or offering all the gimmicky programs that aren’t likely in your best interest anyhow.
The Uber of Private Jets
Really? This program was backed by well-known celebrities and originally founded by Uber co-founder and chairman Garret Camp – who pulled out after a previous service suspension; giving up his entire investment! The idea was to ultimately settle in as a per-seat cost model that charged an annual fee (in addition to the cost per seat). They aren’t the only company offering this service. It probably will take off eventually and will probably work for many; however, it isn’t the same as a true private jet experience and we simply aren’t interested in compromising quality in an effort to attract the masses.
Before we close, let us not neglect to address one of the primary selling points, as we know it, for most of these programs – the one-way pricing structure! In all fairness, there was a time (more than ten years ago) that the pricing of one-way flight itineraries was quite unattractive in traditional, on-demand, charter operations. That has evolved considerably. If you are working with someone who isn’t investing considerable effort into finding you one-way options when they are a more appropriate fit then you should really consider exploring alternate (or additional) service providers who will take your best interest into consideration. You really want a company who will match your needs to the most appropriate option for you; without regard only for what is most profitable for them.
When do empty legs and one-way opportunities become most practical? In most aircraft, a two hour per day flight hour minimum is imposed. If you are flying from San Francisco to Los Angeles for business, and plan to stay overnight, your itinerary spans two days. This would typically result in a minimum of four flight hours being charged but we know that the flight time from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back is not four hours. This scenario is indicative of when two one-way flights become most cost-effective. Considering these are both high-density city pairs, a charter coordinator who is taking your best interest into consideration, should invest the extra effort into matching your needs with appropriate availability within the industry. If they are only offering you a plane within their own fleet that results in the greatest revenue for their company, it may be time to shop around to see if they are truly the best company for you to give your business to.
Don’t forget to let any charter coordinator you work with know your preferences. Do you prefer newer aircraft? What are your requirements for newness? Year 2000 or newer? Year 2005 or newer? Are you partial to a particular model? Do you or someone in your party have special needs? Excessive luggage? Any company who is service oriented and committed to their customers, as we are, will most definitely go to extremes to please you; after all, private jets aren’t for everyone or else all these gimmicky fad companies wouldn’t keep dropping like flies!
The Falcon 5x is expected to be certified in 2017 and for those of us who are big fans of the Falcon jets… this is pretty exciting! The 5X is a large-cabin twinjet which is expected to up the ante for cabin comfort, aircraft performance and ease of maintaining.
The expectations surrounding the 5X have existed among rumors for years with Dassault finally giving head to the rumors in late 2013.
Here are some of the eye popping specifics:
- Expected to cost around $45 million new
- 8.86 feet fuselage diameter (larger than the 8X)
- 6.5 feet interior height
- 1,766 cubic feet volume
- Seating for 12 passengers
Those figures show us that this 5X will actually be larger than the trijet 7X that we love so much!
How about operations and fuel efficiency you might ask? Well, how about 50% more fuel efficient and costing 30% less to operate that similar models available from competitors? Pretty impressive, right? Dassault didn’t just think of the passengers though… they are incorporating pilot seats that recline 130 degrees so that one crew member can rest while the other flies the aircraft. This bird also boasts a 5,200 nautical mile range (approximately 11.5 hours of flying) and can fly as fast as Mach 0.9 (approximately 600 mph).
Maximum Takeoff Weight
1,766 cubic feet
155 cubic feet
A temporary flight restriction, most often referred to as a TFR, is a restriction originally created by the FAA in an effort to manage the airspace surrounding things such as fires, natural disasters and the like. Following the attacks of 9/11, TFRs were also adopted as a method for federal security agencies to use, as they deem necessary, in relation to the security of VIPs. Considering there are typically an average of 150 active TFRs at any given time, it appears that security is a big need by the federal security agencies. Perhaps it is important to also consider that we are in an election year and those securing high office are traveling quite a bit and TFRs are also implemented for their travel. Nonetheless, the variation of active TFRs during election and non-elections years is not considerably significant.
With most TFRs, commercial airline flights are rarely disturbed; TFRs primarily affect independents, business and general aviation. What can be the icing on the cake, in regards to inconvenience, is that these TFRs tend to occur quite a bit during peak travel days such as Memorial Day and Labor Day (when everyone and their brother is returning from a big weekend). It is not uncommon for a major TFR, during a peak travel weekend, to cost a charter company in the realm of $15,000 and up in lost revenue. This causes many professionals in the aviation community to question the cost versus the gain. How effective are TFRs against crazy people who might be inclined to wish (or cause) harm to a current or future politician? In truth, as an aviation professional, I don’t see the use of TFRs as a means of protecting politicians as much more than guys with big egos shutting down airspace so they can feel powerful; after all, how likely is it that terrorists give a hoot about checking the TFR database before committing a horrific act?
Not only should you visit Edinburgh, Scottland‘s capital, but you should take your kids! Yep! That’s right! You should take your children. Why? You may ask… well, Edinburgh is bursting at its seems with medieval history painted with gardens and neoclassical buildings. From Arthur’s seat (an extinct volcano in Holyrood park) to Edinburgh Castle (home to Scotland’s crown jewels) to the scavenger hunt at the palace to… too many to mention!
What is there to do at the palace? What isn’t there to do? Some prefer the Explorer Quiz, some prefer the scavenger hunt. Others prefer hands on exhibits like the one that allows you to hold a replica of the broadsword – just like the one Mel Gibson fought with in the movie Braveheart. If that is too much excitement for you, as it is me, perhaps you’d like to join me in the castle’s Redcoat cafe for some coffee and cake while overlooking the amazing city views.
Whatever your pleasures may be… Edinburgh offers amazing opportunity. Whether you charter a private plane to Edinburgh, Scotland or not, you’d love the experience… of course, we do recommend a private jet charter to Edinburgh.
|Airport Information – Edinburgh|
|City: Edinburgh||Country: United Kingdom|
|Airport Code: EGPH||Alt Airport Code: N/A|
|Latitude: 55.95000000||Longitude: -3.36999989|
|Runway Length: 8,400 ft||Runway Elevation: 135 ft|
|GMT Offset: 0|
All too frequently we associated San Diego with the beach, great sporting events, and awesome downtown entertainment and forget that they are also blessed with the beautiful Laguna Mountains!
Did you know that “The Golden State” was made the official state nickname for California in 1968? You probably do! California can be traced as having been where gold was discovered in 1848 and is often also associates with our golden poppies. But did you know that San Diego county is home of one of the original gold mines? Yes it is! Right in the city of Julian; where you can explore a guided adventure with Eagle Mining Company that will take you deeo into the mine tunnels to experience them from the viewpoint of the original miners of the 1870s. Wouldn’t it be fun to learn to pan for gold with the kids? Follow that up with a slice of Julian’s famous apple pie from Mom’s Pies and you’ll be in golden apple heaven!
Charter flights to San Diego
San Diego Private JetsMom’s Pies
2119 Main Street
Julian, CA 92036
San Diego couples together the best of city life with the historical mountains in the most beautiful scenery imaginable. A splendid place to visit!
Don’t miss the final segment in our San Diego feature tomorrow that highlights the pleasantly overwhelming fun, food and festivities just waiting for you in downtown San Diego!
Our previous post in this series, San Diego – A great place to visit!, highlighted the Hotel del Coronado and briefly mentioned gondola rides and the gas lamp district but let’s dig deeper into the amazing offerings of downtown San Diego.
The Gondola Company
The Gondola Company affords you the ability to mentally be in Venice, Italy while still physically in San Diego California on a 50 minute cruise that accommodates up to six passengers. Bring along a nice bottle of wine or some champagne and they provide the bucket of ice, glasses, and the wine opener.
San Diego Air & Space Museum
How can we be an aviation company and not share this one? If you’ve never taken the time to explore aviation history, I promise it is remarkable and inspiring beyond what you may imagine! As founder & CEO of Exquisite Air Charter, and being a lady, I have come to realize that as little girls we don’t tend to play with as many cars and planes as our male associates. The result is less adult interest in aviation. I wish I could share with every little girl the inspiration I found in aviation. Perhaps a museum such as this is a good place to start; let’s teach our children that they can fly! Let’s teach our children that they are capable of the unimaginable. You’d be surprised how much of these lessons exist in aviation; I invite you and your children to explore aviation history and to become inspired in all facets of your life – it was through the is how I fell in love with aviation and I am sure you will find it rewarding as well!
Balboa Island in itself is amazing but then… the additional activities are endless; from parasailing to water sports, to fishing, and tours – there are endless activities. One thing, in particular, that draws huge crowds at this time of year is the annual Balboa/Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and the holiday light cruises; simply stunning! Did I mention it is so inexpensive? This year, a 90 minute cruise for the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is just $25 per person!
Whether you are a local Southern California who wants to drive up for the weekend or a non-native looking for a great place to visit (with or without the kids) – San Diego is a great choice! The countless experiences that exist in the San Diego is just the icing on the cake to the beautiful scenery and gorgeous year ’round weather. San Diego is uniquely located between the Anza-Borrego Desert, the Pacific Ocean, and the Laguna Mountains; affording you the best of all worlds in one destination!
San Diego Ocean
Imagine… 70 miles of beaches! That figure suggests what many of us natives know to be true – plenty of beach for every mood: romantic, quaint, family-oriented, party, quiet meditation, and so much more! The island area of Coronado houses the famous, red-roofed, Coronado Hotel, sparkling (thanks to the mica mineral) beaches, and plenty of family-oriented and romantic activities such as kayaking, biking, gondola rides, shopping, and amazing food options.
Hotel del Coronado is a landmark that exudes grandeur and luxury and has been complimenting the beautiful beaches since 1888. Whether your visit is geared more toward the Spa Mimosa Mondays or the complimentary s’mores in the evening, the skating rink on the beach during the holidays, or… my personal favorite: the amazingly delicious Sunday brunch, there is no denying the warm and inviting aura provided by such an amazing landmark hotel. With that being said, don’t underestimate Hotel del Coronado‘s competition! Whether it is the casual splendor of Paradise Point or the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley that is so conveniently located just a little more than a mile from Qualcomm stadium.
I think I had the best chipotle chicken sandwich I have ever tasted delivered to my room at Paradise Point followed by walking out my rear French Doors to feed the birds before putting my feet in the beach water right outside my bungaloo in the bay that almost seemed like my own private beach. Did I mention the fire pits and lawn chairs on my back patio (on the beach). While Paradise point isn’t as fancy as the Hotel del Coronado, it is definitely a force to be reckoned with and I, personally, can’t wait until my next visit!
Check back tomorrow for my section on San Diego Mountains; followed by a post dedicated to downtown San Diego.
San Diego Airports
|Airport Information – Gillespie Field|
|City: San Diego||State: California (CA)|
|Airport Code: SEE||Alt Airport Code: KSEE|
|Latitude: 32.82000000||Longitude: -116.97000122|
|Runway Length: 5,341 ft||Runway Elevation: 387 ft|
|Time Zone: Pacific||GMT Offset: -8|
|Airport Information – Montgomery Field|
|City: San Diego||State: California (CA)|
|Airport Code: MYF||Alt Airport Code: KMYF|
|Latitude: 32.81000000||Longitude: -117.12999725|
|Runway Length: 4,577 ft||Runway Elevation: 427 ft|
|Time Zone: Pacific||GMT Offset: -8|
|Airport Information – San Diego International Lindbergh Field|
|City: San Diego||State: California (CA)|
|Airport Code: SAN||Alt Airport Code: KSAN|
|Latitude: 32.73000000||Longitude: -117.18000031|
|Runway Length: 9,400 ft||Runway Elevation: 14 ft|
|Time Zone: Pacific||GMT Offset: -8|
|Airport Information – Brown Field Municipal|
|City: San Diego||State: California (CA)|
|Airport Code: SDM||Alt Airport Code: KSDM|
|Latitude: 32.57000000||Longitude: -116.98000336|
|Runway Length: 7,999 ft||Runway Elevation: 526 ft|
|Time Zone: Pacific||GMT Offset: -8|
I say football… The Rose Bowl! More seriously (I think!), what is so incredibly different between a day changing at one second past midnight from December 31st to January 1st versus the day changing at one second past midnight on any other day? Is it all about new beginnings? Reflection? or merely a new calendar? What is so different between a universal new year and each of our own new year (AKA our birthday)?
This ubiquitous behavior must be tied to something that is profoundly more meaningful than the mere symbolism by which we keep chronological score of our lives, as most of us fail at our resolutions – living healthier, better, longer, and skinnier lives with more money in our designer purses (or pockets).
The reality… nothing changes on New Year’s Day… except our calendar! Nonetheless, we are fascinated by the fireworks that seem to be a prerequisite of good luck rituals, resolutions, and other celebratory behaviors that give us hope of a brighter future.
Perhaps the most significant (in my opinion) aspect of New Year’s traditions is the reflection, hope, and good intentions that fill our hearts, minds, and even our souls.
We do not learn from experience; we learn from reflecting on experience!
So, as you bring in the New Year, Exquisite Air Charter’s wish for you is that you reflect on your life and the lessons that have presented themselves to you and make one of your resolutions to be more present during the experiences that have the power to fuel your growth. I wish you the ability to be more positive along your journey so that you can find the blessings in every lesson – learn to replace thoughts like, “why did this happen to me?” with thoughts like, “what opportunities might come from me not getting what I wanted!”
Life is what you make it so let’s choose to make it a happy one!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
How would you feel about a Costa Rican getaway? You’d be surprised how much this is a kids’ trip. Costa Rica is very warm all year around. Tortuguero is no exception! Tortuguero is located on the northern, Caribbean side and is a national park and rain forest. This amazing national park is like a zoo where you can walk among native creatures including toucans, monkeys, turtles, and more. Unlike many rain forests, Tortuguero is easy to get to. Tours often depart San Jose via bus to this tropical region. Many companies offer all-inclusive packages that include transportation, meals, lodging, and more! Your Exquisite Air Charter representative will gladly assist you in setting up a visit to Tortuguero.
We highly recommend a walking tour into the village of Tortuguero, kayaking smaller canals, and guides canoe rides to get close to local animals. Most of all, the evening turtle tour is not to be missed!
Sea Turtle nesting is most available to visitors during the months spanning from July through October; with hatching generally taking place near Christmas time. Special guides are available through many lodges who will take small groups to view, up close, nesting female sea turtles. A strong patrol presence exists in the evenings to prevent poaching and education is available through the local Sea Turtle Conservancy; explaining just how important the sea turtles are (especially the endangered green turtle).
There are so many opportunities for amazing, up-close, interaction with the animals when visiting beautiful Costa Rica but perhaps Tortuguero is the epitome of opportunities for interaction and education when associated with rain forest animals in Costa Rica. Whether you arrive via a private jet or other – Tortuguero is a great place to visit!
One option businesses rarely thrive and so the operations that ONLY focused on fractional flights have seemingly begun to realize. If I am rather candid, did they expect to truly work out? How long did they think they could thrive by hiring really great talkers (sales persons) to convince buyers that this was a great option before the consumers began realizing this option was nothing more than what I have often labeled an extremely expensive bragging right! Sure! You can brag to all your friends that you own a plane but do you really? If you truly owned a plane then you’d probably fly in YOUR plane from time to time and that’s rarely the case in fractional operations. Most factional operators seemed to be pulling away from fractional focus and shifting their focus more towards jet cards.
Jet cards often offer many of the same perks of fractional contracts; however, often without the upfront asset cost, managements fees, and residual-value risk. Shouldn’t the customer shop for ‘solutions’ instead of wasting their money for the ability to brag that they own a jet (if that’s what you want to call it)?
Diversification is often the key to success! Meeting the needs of the consumer is certainly key to success! Consumers want high-quality, yet affordable, private flying options. Gimmicks are short lived – as they should be! At the end of the day, you should ultimately want well-equipped and well-maintained aircraft, experienced and well-trained crew members, reliability and guarantee (a company who will back up their service in the event of an issue instead of leaving you stranded)! Many consumers of fractional options have been sold on the consistency of aircraft and service; however, an experienced broker can assure you the same quality, as they are not tied to a particular fleet! With exceptional experience, a charter broker can save you money and offer the same, if not better, quality offered by top fractional operators. Larger fleets typically afford these offerings but charter brokers are not tied to a fleet; they source to all fleets. Just make sure you are dealing with an honest broker who doesn’t ever compromise standards (especially safety standards) to try to earn your business by being the lowest bidder!