As the UK economy splutters back into life one business is actually booming. Deliveries of private jets are up a staggering 47%, with Britain buying more new planes than any other nation in Europe. And these days it’s not just billionaires and bankers getting to use them.
As prices soar above 40 million pounds for state-of-the-art aircraft like the Gulfstream G650, only the largest companies and richest oligarchs can afford to actually buy one. Instead surging demand is being met by fractional ownership schemes and businesses specialising in private jet hire.
Demand is highest in London. As a global financial hub the capital is home to investors and entrepreneurs who need rapid access at short notice to new markets around the world. Rather than endure the crowds and cancellations of Heathrow more and more frequent flyers are chartering private jets.
Nice if you can afford it. Tennis champion Andy Murray certainly can, which is why he recently hired a private jet to fly him from Madrid to Rome. Sporting celebrities and movie stars bring an air of fame and glamour to private jet hire, which perhaps explains some of the rapid growth in the market. The other reason is the competitive pricing structure.
For just a few thousand pounds it’s now possible to fly in luxury like the A list –to Paris at least. Getting to New York will set you back more, but with a few friends or colleagues on board, the per person price is comparable with a typical first class ticket on a commercial plane.
Even so, private jets have gotten a lot of flack, particularly from shareholders opposed to excessive management perks. The financial crisis exposed a lot of bad boardroom behaviour and private jets became emblematic of managerial excess. But as a productivity and logistics tool they’re hard to beat which is why Britain now boasts a fleet of 503 registered business aircraft, the second largest in Europe after Germany.
A private jet can deliver a team of executives and experts to several different locations thousands of miles apart, all in one day, then get everyone home in time for dinner. Unless of course home happens to be in Moscow. Many UK registered aircraft are actually being flown in Russia. Which is fine, as long as they don’t fly off with all of our football clubs.