By purchasing a jet card you are buying a block of time on a private aircraft. You can buy cards from many charter brokers and charter operators and all the big fractional and closed fleet operators offer prepaid access time. A jet card typically locks in a price per hour that won't change during the use of those hours. These locked in hourly rates are normally good for either a year or two years.
There are two broad structures for jet cards:
- Plane specific – where you prepay for a set number of hours on a specific aircraft type. These are typically 25 hour cards, but we’ve also seen cards for as few as 5 hours and for up to 50 hours.
- Debit card – where you deposit an initial sum, often starting at $100,000, and then the operator draws from this sum as you use different aircraft at fixed hourly rates. The initial deposit could be lower, for instance we’ve seen them at $50,000. Or could be higher, which may get you a lower hourly rate on each aircraft type.
All flights are conducted under FAA Part 135 charter regulations, and so you will have to pay the 7.5 % per-leg federal excise tax.
One of the great advantages for card holders is that you are usually not billed directly for deadhead, or unoccupied hours. In other words the rate for one way trips are usually built into the hourly rate for the card. This makes the price per hour for these one way trips fairly competitive, but means that return round trips can be more expensive (than other methods such as charter), although some jet card providers do offer discounts for round trips.
Another big advantage is the consistency of service. With the large fractional operators you'll be flying on their fleet of consistently equipped and maintained aircraft. With the charter brokers you'll have one point of call to arrange your travel needs.
Note, in 2021, due to record levels of demand, several jet card providers have closed their programs to new customers, and card prices have increased quite significantly.
Read the latest jet card news below and download the full guide to the right.
Locally-focused private aviation company Jet Linx has announced the limited resumption of its Executive jet card sales. New card sales were temporarily suspended in late 2021 to ensure Jet Linx maintained guaranteed services to its jet card members nationwide during the spike in peak travel over the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays. Commencing January 1st, sales of new jet cards will be limited and subject to a waitlist at each Jet Linx private terminal location based upon the capacity of Jet Linx's exclusive closed fleet of private jet aircraft and the status of Membership Tier priority.
Air Partner, the global aviation services group, has introduced auto-enrolment for all its private jet and group charter clients into a Carbon Offsetting scheme. This includes all its jet card clients.
The whole of the private aviation industry is facing record demand for flights. This demand is driving up prices and several large jet card providers are even pausing new card sales.
Just a few weeks ago NetJets announced it was pausing jet card sales on its light jets. It has now extended this pause to all sales of jet cards across the whole fleet.
The newly public Wheels Up (NYSE:UP) recently announced results for the second quarter, which ended June 30, 2021. The highlights show revenue increased 113% year-over-year to $285.6 million, live flight legs increased 146% year-over-year to 18,234 and active members grew 47% year-over-year to 10,515 in total.
NetJets says its owners are traveling more than ever and that “flight volume is at a record high.” At the same time, it has “exhausted the production capacity of some OEM partners”, so it is stopping sales of new jet cards on the Citation XLS and Phenom 300 – the smallest planes in its fleet.
Air Partner plc has reported strong growth in its JetCard product, driven by US activity. The company says bookings, members and customer deposits are up globally as travel restrictions ease.
Jet Card holders may fly on aircraft certified under either (FAA) part 135 charter or part 91k fractional regulations. The aviation services company ARGUS released numbers for the largest part 135 charter operators and the largest fractional aircraft operators. Here’s a discussion of the largest card providers.