Chartering an Airplane – The 5 Top Benefits
The benefits of chartering an airplane far outweigh any cons in the majority of cases. Some people will argue that it’s expensive, or excessive, or unnecessary. But I hope that the information and ideas suggested in this article show you why, in fact, it is very necessary!
The benefits of chartering an airplane include things such as privacy, security, comfort and flexibility. Let’s look at a few of those a little more closely.
There are no screaming children, coughing and hacking neighbors, overtly happy people heading off on holiday with their friends and all talking too loudly. No scrambling to your seat and getting up and down for others if you are unlucky enough to end up with an aisle seat, no old lady next to you hogging your elbow room.
But more importantly for business users or others who want to have an uninterrupted conversation without fearing of being overheard, you are free to discuss business or knock about a few ideas with your significant other with no embarrassing repercussions.
Sensitive business can be discussed with no fear of leaks or competitors overhearing and no fears of sensitive corporate information being heard by all and sundry. In some industries – this is a serious consideration that can make travel time a complete waste of time as far as working goes.
Private air charter can be the epitome of luxury and class. Think of commercial air flights as being a run of the mill taxi cab, and a private charter jet as a plush stretch limo. Some are even more luxurious than a limo!
Believe it or not (and it does take some believing, I grant you!) but it is quite possible to find things such as living suites, gyms, spa’s and sauna’s, full double bedrooms and other things that the ‘filthy’ rich like to spoil themselves with being built into private jets more and more every day.
Granted, they have to be built into the larger jets as opposed to the small to mid size airplanes but to some – buying a 747 and kitting it out to their specification is not a problem at all.
Have to say – I’m unlikely to ever see one of those from the inside, can’t quite stretch to renting one of those jets.
Not only can you avoid border hassles when flying internationally, you can generally charter a private jet with very little notice. It’s not unknown for jets to be available to rent in an hour. (Special cases here mark you – don’t bank on this speed of response as being the norm or the doable in every case!)
Private airplane charter services do not tend to own a whole fleet – they, like everyone else, arrange a jet for you from ‘A N Other’ company or owner. They work as the middle man between you and the owner, taking care of your arrangements and requirements. They give you flexibility that you do not normally have when it comes to renting a plane.
This is part of the beauty of flying a private charter – it can free you from dependence on travel agencies and commercial air companies. Not to mention you get to avoid those long, long and nasty lines for boarding, and those little extras we have to endure now, things like taking off your shoes and having your bags extensively searched and not being able to take bottle of drink through security.
(I’m seriously miffed at that one – how much % mark up did the shops on the other side of security add to the price when THAT rule came into play!?) Flying private can free you from all of those little inconveniences. Hell, wander onto your charter plane with a Jack Daniels and coke in your hand and see if anyone says anything – apart from suggesting you put it down whilst trying to put your seatbelt on!
Flying private isn’t just about reaching your destination. It is also primarily about enjoying your traveling experience, and being comfortable on the journey. I’ll make you a promise right here and now – the first time you bite the bullet and decide to charter a private flight will be an unforgettable trip for you, something that you will both think back on with great memories as well as talk about often! It just makes traveling fun again!
One on One service, comfy seats with leg, knee and elbow room, quiet and calm environment and no waiting for whatever you want (apart from the preparation time that is!). Sheer comfort and luxury.
Another of the great benefits to chartering an airplane is the impression you can make on others.
Not only can you impress clients, you can also pamper employees and give them incentive to work all the harder for you. You can highlight yourself as being different to clients, and build closer relationships by inviting them on a private charted business trip overseas with you.
It is just an all around excellent way to travel, and given the choice why would you want to fly in that commercial taxi when you can fly in that luxurious limo instead?
Aircraft Charter Rates For Wallets of All Sizes
In a bid to compare commercial flights to chartered ones, there is no set response as to which is the better. It depends on needs as duration of use dictates hourly rental calculation. Investment into the future is also up for discussion as there can be significant savings in the long run if the latter complements business objectives.
Despite public outcry, aircraft charter rates are not necessarily premium all the way. Discounted rates are up for grabs if travel times happen to coincide with planets lining up just right. Seriously, there are various factors determining these rates with great opportunities for savings.
Base factors for rates are aircraft type and route. If money is not a hindrance, one therefore has greater clout in selecting a more comfortable vehicle. A plush interior combined with attentive in-flight service is certainly nothing to pooh about as every bit helps to make the journey a pleasant and memorable one.
All the more reason, if business meetings or special occasions are conducted on board. Size of craft also affects the size of the check as a larger plane requires more fuel and crew in attendance. Selecting a later make may also send numbers skyward as newer planes may command a higher price.
Routes dictate aircraft charter rates based on distance and popularity. In view of hourly rental rates, longer time in the air translates to costlier rental. Passengers have different travel needs. Return trips, though most common for business or holiday trips, may not always be the case.
At times, clients only need a one-way transfer. Such cases are charged a rate between a single and return trip. The onus is then on the air chartering establishment to fill the empty leg to compensate the loss of income to bring the craft back to base. The strategy is thus to offer cargo space and passenger seats at discounted prices to attract take-up based on last-minute arrangements.
Austrian Airlines’ Cancun Charter Flight Operation
Although passengers are aware that airlines fly to the destinations they need to travel to, whether it be for business, pleasure, or relational reasons, they may not know that some are served by cargo-only flights; code-share services, in which another carrier operates the aircraft; or charter arrangements, which enable airlines to extend their reach to cities only supportable by group or travel agency bookings, particularly during seasonal-demand periods.
Acting in the capacities of overseer and trainer, the author experienced one such charter flight operation-that of Austrian Airlines in Cancun, Mexico-at the beginning of its Winter 2006-2007 schedule. Observed was the season’s inaugural flight.
1. Mexican Civil Aviation Regulations
Austrian Airlines was handled by Passenger Handling Services/Maca in Cancun. According to Mexican Civil Aviation Regulations, all ground handling companies were required to adhere to three regulations.
They first needed to submit a letter from the handled carrier, verifying that the ground company in question was properly trained in the areas of Flight Plan Coordination, Weight and Balance, Ramp Procedures, Refueling Procedures, and Passenger Service. The letter also needed to indicate the names of the staff actually trained in these areas.
They secondly needed to possess copies of the applicable, aircraft-specific operations manual(s). In the case of the Cancun flight, it was the one concerning the Boeing 767.
Finally, they needed to file a manual check-in plan, with the necessary seat charts, boarding passes, and other supplies.
2. Ground Operations Training
In order to fulfill the training requirement, the author reviewed the Cancun Station Operation Plan, inclusive of the passenger check-in and Centralized Load Control (CLC) procedures, with the handling company’s Duty Manager shortly after his arrival in Mexico, and held two training classes with its staff the following day.
The first, the 2.5-hour Austrian Airlines Load Sheet Familiarization Training, included an overview of the Centralized Load Control (CLC) procedures, load plans, the creation of an inbound load plan based upon the day’s actual container/pallet distribution message (CPM), and the collective completion of a manual load sheet example, copies of which were placed on file at the Cancun station.
During the second session, held after the flight departed, the author again reviewed the CLC procedures with the three staff members who had been unable to attend the morning class.
3. Passenger Check-In
Passenger check-in and boarding occurred in Terminal 1. A small passenger service office, located behind the Mexicana de Aviacion check-in counters, was located in the Vuelos Nacionales (Domestic Flights) section of Terminal 2, while the Operations office was situated behind the security checkpoint and on the ramp side of Terminal 2.
A complimentary, periodically run passenger shuttle connected the two buildings from designated terminal frontage departure points. Terminal 3, intended for international flights, was scheduled for March 2007 completion at that time.
The Passenger Handling Services/Maca Duty Manager of Austrian Airlines’ Cancun flight operations, a licensed Aircraft Dispatcher, had amassed 15 years in the airline/aviation industry and took great pride in adhering to regulations.
Passenger check-in was located in the recently reopened, but downsized, hurricane-damaged Terminal 1, which was then only occupied by charter carriers, such as Miami Air, First Choice, Air Transat, and Corsairfly.
Passenger check-in itself commenced three hours before the scheduled 1640 departure time of the flight at counters that were located only a few yards from the terminal entrance. All passengers, in accordance with Mexican security regulations, were required to have their baggage manually inspected prior to actual check-in.
Five check-in positions were used: one for Amadeus (business) Class and four for the economy cabin. The Passenger Service Supervisor and the business class check-in agent spoke Spanish, English, and German, and seat selection, provided by the MaestroDCS system, along with any authorized upgradings, were coordinated with the Tui tour representative, whose company chartered the flight.
Check-in itself was accomplished with the MaestroDCS system. During the process, a passenger requested a wheelchair and it was immediately furnished.
4. Boeing 767
The Cancun flight was operated by the extended range version of the Boeing 767-300, the second of the two stretched-fuselage, higher capacity variants, whose general design features included the following.
General Description: A widebody, twin-engine, cantilever, low-wing monoplane of semi-monocoque construction intended for commercial passenger and cargo and military applications.
Fuselage: Of aluminum alloy, fail-safe construction.
Wings: Employed advanced aluminum alloy skins and featured 31 degrees of sweepback and six degrees of dihedral.
Tail: Conventional empennage with swept surfaces on both its horizontal and vertical tails.
Landing Gear: Hydraulically-retracted, tricycle undercarriage with a Menasco twin-wheel, which retracted forward, and two, four-wheeled, Cleveland Pneumatic main gear units, which retracted inward. Both were equipped with Honeywell wheels and brakes.
Engines: Two aerodynamic, pod-encased high bypass ratio turbofans pylon-mounted to the wing leading edge undersides.
Design Features: Replacing the 727 with a larger capacity, widebody design, it was nevertheless optimized for 727-type route sectors with one-stop transcontinental range capability. It employed computer-aided design (CAD) during its initial development phase, whose costs were reduced because of parallel 757 development.
Although it was not considered a single-aisle aircraft, it introduced a narrower fuselage cross-section than that used by previous widebody types, yielding several advantages, including a reduction in parasite drag; a twin-aisle cabin, in which passengers were never more than one seat from the window or the aisle; gate and ramp compatibility at smaller, 727-like airports; and advanced, light-weight aluminum alloy flight surfaces, specifically the fixed wing leading edge panel, the spoilers, the ailerons, the fixed wing trailing edge panel, the undercarriage doors, the elevators, and the rudder.
Additional benefits were derived from the use of a supercritical wing, such as a high aspect ratio, an aft-loaded section, the development of more lift for less drag than any previous airfoil, 22-percent greater thickness than that employed by previous-decade airliners, a lighter and simpler structure, and more wing-integral fuel tank capacity.
Powered by two high bypass ratio turbofans, it was able to offer higher thrust, lower specific fuel consumption, a reduced noise footprint, lower maintenance costs, and improved reliability.
Like the 757 then concurrently designed, it was operated by a two-person cockpit crew.
By using the previously dry center-section fuel tank, Boeing was able offer an increased-range version that required few other modifications, yet its inherent fuselage stretchability, the greater capabilities of its existing wing and tail, its 757 common pilot type rating, and its extended range twin-engine operation certification enabled carriers to substitute it for DC-10 and L-1011 aircraft.
It offered the optimum range and capacity for Austrian Airlines’ transatlantic charter operations to and from Mexico.
Powered by two 60,900 thrust-pound Pratt and Whitney 4060 high bypass ratio turbofans, the aircraft operating the flight, registered OE-LAX, was first delivered in 1992 and bore serial number 27095. Accommodating 30 Amadeus business class passengers in a six-abreast, two-two-two, configuration and 200 in economy in a seven-abreast arrangement with one additional seat in the middle bank, it featured the following maximum weights: 130,634-kilo zero-fuel, 145,149-kilo landing, 186,880-kilo take off, and 187,333-kilo ramp.
Operating as Flight OS 9573 from Vienna, Austria, and Varadero, Cuba, the aircraft landed at 1515 and taxied into the non-jetbridge-equipped parking position 1, as scheduled, at 1520. It was chocked and the safety cones were properly positioned. A stair truck was immediately positioned at door L2 and, in accordance with Mexican regulations, marshaled into this position. The passengers disembarked after a short consultation with the Chef de Cabine (chief purser).
According to the inbound container/pallet distribution message (CPM), the following Cancun-destined unit load devices (ULDs) were on board: an empty DPE in position 11L, baggage AKEs in positions 22L, 23L, and 24L, and an empty DQF in position 43. With the exception of the last one, all were located in the forward hold and were single, or half-width, containers. The latter, in the aft hold, was a double, or full-width, one.
6. Departure Gate
All five departure gates were located immediately up the escalator, through the security checkpoint, and a short walk away. Two snack bars and two shops comprised the terminal’s passenger convenience facilities.
Because of the proximity of the aircraft parking positions, buses or mobile lounges were not necessary, and access ramps led from the departures level to the ramp.
Sequential boarding of the departing flight, operating as OS 9574, commenced at 1545, with announcements in both English and German, and entailed pre-boarding passengers, followed by those in Amadeus business and economy class, the latter by row numbers, beginning at the rear of the aircraft.
Boarding control was computerized, with seat numbers entered into the system. After the last passenger passed through the gate at 1612, the general declaration and all required lists were brought to the cabin crew. Since the Varadero station had changed some seats, the seat occupied message (or SOM) of through-passengers to Vienna was not entirely accurate and resulted in several discrepancies, but these were quickly rectified by local ground staff.
7. Centralized Load Control
In accordance with the Centralized Load Control procedure for charter flight operations, the cockpit crew sent the final fuel figures to Vienna by means of the aircraft communication and reporting system (ACARs), while the local operations staff filled out and faxed a preprinted sheet with passenger totals subdivided by class and zone, along with the number of bags and their weights, all of which was furnished by the MaestroDCS check-in system and telexed to the Terminal 2 operations office. Back-up sheets were available in the event of last minute changes (LMCs) or an ACARs failure.
Although initial difficulty with the fax machine delayed the sending of the information to Vienna on the day of my visit, missing Atlantic tracks in the meteorology folder caused a short, 15-minute departure delay.
All the members of the Cancun ground operations staff were professional, dedicated, and motivated, and obviously possessed considerable knowledge and experience. Because the handling company’s operations office had to be relocated from Terminal 1 to its then-current Terminal 2 facility due to hurricane damage, the logistical challenge could only be met with ramp vehicle conveyance, but the operation was otherwise well orchestrated.
The Maca duty manager was an excellent asset to the station and his team, and the use of the German language at the check-in counter was a plus to Austrian Airlines’ passengers.
Its Cancun charter flight operation that day could not have been more seamlessly executed.
Air Taxi-Air Charter – What’s the Difference in Pricing?
The term “air taxi” refers to an aircraft service that provides transport to people in an on demand basis. That is you can take a flight in a private jet when you want to go rather than booking a trip that was previously scheduled.
Air charter is a form of air taxi but a new class of aircraft and new business models are re-defining “air taxi” to mean something less expensive than traditional charter. The idea behind an air taxi system is that the aircraft operator will be able to reduce the number of empty flights that the airplane has to make.
Let’s say you book a flight on a Cessna Citation S/II (CE-S550). This light jet might rent for an hourly rate anywhere from $1,500 to $3,100 depending on the age of the aircraft, amenities and operator qualifications. For our purposes we’ll assume a typical rate of $2,000 per hour.
This price includes the costs associated with operating the aircraft such as pilot salary and fuel costs but does not include some extra charges that may add considerably to your expenses such as:
Taxes – generally 7.5% of the total price.
Repositioning fees – Let’s say you want to fly out of Santa Monica, California but the aircraft is located in San Diego. The aircraft operator would need to send the airplane empty to pick you up and then return it empty to San Diego after dropping you off in Santa Monica at the end of the trip. This repositioning adds expense to the operator’s bottom line and is generally added to your cost at a reduced hourly rate.
Overnight and waiting fees – Let’s say your trip is to fly from Santa Monica to Las Vegas returning on the same day. Your pilots would wait for you for several hours and you’d be charged an hourly rate for the pilots’ time. If your trip calls for an overnight stay you may be charged for the pilots’ hotel rooms and overnight parking fees for the aircraft. These charges will vary depending on local rates.
Daily minimum charge – Most aircraft operators have a two-hour minimum operation charge for charter aircraft. If you need to go on a flight that takes one hour each direction and you complete both legs of the trip in one day then you meet the minimum use requirement and you would only need to pay for the two hours you use the aircraft that day.
If, on the other hand, your trip is scheduled to fly one hour on Friday and then return for the one hour trip on Saturday then you would likely be charged for two hours on Friday and two hours on Saturday for a total of four hours, even though the aircraft only flew for two hours total. This industry standard practice is in place for the “time is money” principle. Aircraft incur expense even when they are just sitting idle.
There are two distinct pricing structures in the air taxi model that might be used and each aircraft operator would make their own determination as to which they would employ, Entire Aircraft or Per Seat:
Entire Aircraft – Again we’ll use the Cessna Citation S/II for this example but the hourly rate will be higher than the air charter rate; let’s say about $2,500 per hour for this example but you won’t be charged for repositioning, overnight, waiting landing or other charges.
It will be a simple per hour price for a pickup and drop-off. After you are dropped off the aircraft may take another client on a trip. Your return trip may be in the same aircraft or it may be in a different aircraft or even a different company. This sort of air taxi service may only be available between certain airports that have enough traffic to keep the aircraft gainfully employed.
Per Seat – The Citation S/II has 7 passenger seats available. If they make a flight with fewer than 7 passengers onboard the operator would lose money if they divide the fare by the number of seats. So they will fix their pricing in one of two ways:
1) Divide the entire price by the number of passengers actually onboard the aircraft for each flight. Let’s say you are traveling with two colleagues and there is another group of two that will travel on this flight with you for a total of five passengers. The price for a seat would be $2,500 / 5 = $500 per seat. If your group were the only ones on the airplane then the per-seat hourly rate would be: $2,500 / 3 = $833 per seat.
2) Divide the entire price by the average number of passengers the operator carries on each trip. Let’s say the operator has been flying the SMO to LAS route for some time and they have determined that they can routinely get an average of 2.9 passengers for each flight they make. If the operator uses this pricing strategy they would charge you $2,500 / 2.9 = $862 per seat per hour. This would be the same price regardless of the number in your party.
Per seat pricing would only be available between limited city pairs that have the volume of traffic to keep the aircraft filled with paying passengers. If you want to fly to an airport outside the per seat network of cities you would probably need to charter the entire aircraft as per seat pricing would not likely be available.
It’s all about efficiency:
The emerging air taxi business model brings more efficiency to the air charter model. Less waste will equate to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, more productivity and lower end costs. Air taxi is expected to become more available and less expensive as Very Light Jets (VLJs) are produced and made available for air charter and air taxi flights.
These aircraft promise to provide services at 20% to 40% discounts from existing light jet aircraft such as the one in the example. As of this writing there have been about 100 VLJs produced and a handful of them have found their way into air taxi businesses along the east coast and Chicago area. But that’s another story.
Perks of Helicopter Charter Services: Why It’s Worth It
Imagine your special occasion being more special when you turn up to your wedding or lunch on the helicopter. Stand out from others in terms of style by arriving in a helicopter and make an impact on your date, business partners, friends or classmates.
When you touch down in a helicopter, it brings out mix feelings of happiness and adrenaline rush. It would be matchless to compare the thrill of helicopter flight with other modes of transport. The rotors thudding overhead and the unique feeling of lifting off vertically are an experience which you may never have and may never experience traveling by any other air based transport.
Helicopter Charter is Worth Every Penny
There can be many reasons to take helicopter charter service but the most prominent will be because it helicopter journey will make your travel a memorable experience. The helicopter flight is an adventure that most find to be thrilling. Making use of helicopter flights can be a great way to make an occasion special and create memories that will make a special day all the more special.
Helicopters fly at a certain height which makes them so enchanting for sight-seeing tours. They are not permitted to fly above aeroplanes so from that height it gives a perfect view when looked out of the window and sees the world below.
Convenience that Matters
Helicopter helps in reducing the travelling time as it doesn’t have to make you go through the whole process of checking in and waiting for two hours of for flight. This can be a major benefit to any business because everyone knows that time equals money.
It’s also a lot less stressful if you are going away for leisure because it leaves you with more time to actually enjoy your holiday. The greatest advantages of a helicopter charter regardless of whether you are using for business or leisure is the fact that it eliminates overnight stops. This not only creates inconvenience, but they also create high costs so anything making you get rid of these things is bound to be a good thing.
Private and Cosy
Travelling by helicopter charter gives you more privacy than flying with hundreds of other people on a normal aeroplane. This gives you a freedom of doing whatever you want; you can conduct a business meeting or simply sit there and relax. You can do this without any interruptions whatsoever. This level of privacy is impossible to get on a normal plane because there are always so many other people flying at the same time.
Reach Out to the Places Where You Cannot Go with Jet Planes
If you are planning to visit a hilly area or a place which do not have landing space for airplanes, the helicopter is a simple and convenient option. A trip to Vaishno Devi or other mountainous regions like Sikkim is better made with a helicopter.
The charter helicopters are intelligently designed and highly adaptable to address a range of individual requirements, their potential provide access to remote areas and city centres, with the ability to land at helipads, hotels and private properties, where the space allows, making them one of the most flexible and suitable aircraft types for travel to remote, crowded or otherwise difficult to reach destinations.