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.
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.
Jet card providers NetJets and Flexjet have both expressed interest in the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet. Flexjet placed an order for 20 of the aircraft back in 2015 and NetJets recently obtained purchase rights for 20 planes.
Sentient Jet, the inventor of jet cards, achieved 60% year over year growth and ended 2020 with $450 million in jet card sales. As with most other private aviation companies, Sentient saw a large influx of new customers who want to travel but are keen to avoid commercial aviation during the pandemic. In 2020 Sentient Jet saw 2/3 of its jet card purchases come from new clients compared to only 1/3 pre-COVID.
During 2020, the global business aviation company VistaJet saw an increase of 29% in new subscription memberships year-on-year. This is VistaJet’s equivalent of a jet card product offering fixed hourly rates.