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 will sell access time in chunks. 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 thus you will have to pay the 7.5 % per-leg federal excise tax, although this tax is currently waived through 31st December 2020 under the CARES Act.
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.
Read the latest jet card news below and download the full guide to the right.
Wheels Up has just acquired Mountain Aviation, which has the largest and growing Part 135-operated Citation X fleet in the United States, with bases in Denver, Teterboro, and Southern California.
Under the CARES Act there is no 7.5% federal excise taxes (FET) on jet cards and jet charter flights purchased before Dec. 31, 2020. This means you can potentially pay for a jet card in 2020 and travel FET free in 2021 and beyond. This article includes some of the leading companies who are offering FET free jet cards for future travel.
Private aviation magazine Business Jet Traveller conducts an annual reader survey that they call “Readers Choice”. In 2020 they had close to 2,000 respondents who gave their ratings on charter and jet card providers and membership clubs, with enough data to rank 11 of the largest providers.
Qatar Executive recently introduced its exclusive Diamond Agreement, a pre-purchase, fixed-hourly rate jet card program which provides access to Qatar’s fleet of state-of-the-art long-range and ultra-long-range private jets. The large private jet operator, Qatar Executive is part of Qatar Airways serving individuals, businesses, corporations and governments. Its planes fly to more than 400 airports around the world, both in rural and urban centers. The Diamond Agreement was specifically designed to simplify private jet travel for Qatar Executive customers.
In direct response to the COVID-19 outbreak, PrivateFly launches a jet card program to address the surge of new clients turning from commercial airline travel to private aviation. This fixed hourly rate, guaranteed availability jet card is designed for frequent flyers who, in the ‘new normal’, are turning to private jets for safer travel, more control over personal budgets, and ultimately minimizing potential exposure to the deadly virus. Card holders can also fly in the USA through a partnership with sister company Sentient Jet.
On announcing its half year results, UK public company Air Partner Plc (London Stock Exchange: AIR) said the number of new JetCards sold is up 50% on the prior period. They expect the increased interest to continue due to the safer environment offered by private aviation. In particular the company experienced exceptional levels of trading from COVID-19 related work in their Group Charter and Freight divisions.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) authorized the Treasury Department to provide up to $32 billion to compensate aviation industry workers and preserve jobs. This included both commercial and private aviation companies. Here’s a look at the largest private jet and jet card companies that received some of this funding.
As the world continues to battle the challenges of COVID-19, recent data proves that many businesses and individuals are turning to private aviation for a safer way to fly. The bottom line: private aviation and the use of jet cards are on the rise again, especially compared to commercial flights.
It is true, numbers are up since the onset of the pandemic, but the industry still has a way to go to fully recover. FlightAware CEO, Daniel Baker stated, “On Saturday, June 20, Business Aviation traffic surpassed 2019 numbers for the first time since the initial decline with 2.5% more flights than the same day last year. Weekday recovery still has ground to make up but continues to trend upward.”