How much does a private jet cost?
Whether it’s for business, long-haul travel or a jaunt to the next city for dinner, private jets are increasingly the mark of the modern executive traveller. The marketplace for private jet ownership has expanded far past Donald Trump (though he of course has one) to become more widely available. But how much does a private jet really cost – with maintenance, staffing and all other elements of plane ownership?
The answer is more complicated than it seems. The range of jets on the market is wide, and ranges from small lightweight planes up to full-size Boeings and Airbuses. While the Bombadier Learjet, which can only seat 8, costs $US17.2 million to order, the gigantic Airbuses can cost upwards of $US53 million new.
Celebrity jet purchases can also give a distorted version of the market. For instance, the Sultan of Brunei’s customised Boeing 747-430 with golden sinks and crystal fittings cost upwards of $US100 million upfront, not including the decoration and staffing costs. However, if you’re willing to dip into the second-hand market and find a super-light small jet with miles on the dash, that can lower to the hundreds of thousands.
The most popular general model for private jet owners is the Gulfstream. Classified as a ‘midsize’ jet in a market that ranges from ‘super-light’ to ‘super-heavy’, the range can hold between 10 and 19 passengers. The most elite, the G650, costs about $US55 million new. A close competitor, the Bombadier Global Express, which is powered by Rolls Royce engines, is priced at $45.5million new. These planes include executive aft galleries, leather upholstery and all the bells and whistles.
More affordable are older models. Jets which have now been superceded by more modern versions can fetch lower prices on the market, even if there’s little to no difference to performance. Versions that are now 50 years old can only be a few hundred thousand dollars, while old Gulfstreams often cost under $US10 million. However, maintenance on older engines can be difficult.
Overall, the main source of cost for a private jet isn’t the upfront price but the operational expense. A conservative estimate for yearly costs is $US500,000 for a regular flyer, which can rise rapidly for bigger jets. Ownership is a significant investment – but if it’s worth having your own plane at your beck and call, why not?