Private Jet Chartering for Beginners


“I’ve always had a love for aviation. I’ve been what’s been called an ‘Avgeek’ from a very young age. My father is a general aviation pilot. He always wanted to be a commercial pilot but unfortunately had an eye issue, so couldn’t qualify. I always actually wanted to be a pilot, but for some reason or another, my career path took me a different way.

I was always around airfields as a young boy, seeing different variations from propeller turboprops, then wrapped jets, all the way to commercial airliners. My toys were, of course, all aircraft and I used to have this bicycle that had wings on it. It was like a fake plane. So it’s something that’s obviously been embedded in me from very early on and it’s just been growing ever since. I like the freedom that it brings.

I then also had some background in sales before I took on my educational path, which is soon to come to an end. Back in the day when I was at school, I used to sell perfume from my rucksack. Mainly cash in hand. And from that, I actually worked briefly in the fragrance shop back in the local town. Not something that I practically enjoyed but it paid my way for the time being. But then again it was target sales – and that’s the base skills for what I do now.”

“Back in the day when I was at school, I used to sell perfume from my rucksack. Mainly cash in hand.”

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a private jet on the runway in twilight

[Lux Jets] really was just an ad-hoc idea that came to us one afternoon and grew from there. But of course, we were both interested in aviation and in having that luxury lifestyle as well. We team the two together and it’s worked out. But we had no experience in it at all. I know that’s quite risky. When you start a new company, most people have past experience in it, but this really was a leap of faith into something new. It was literally just ‘Let’s explore that further’, and over the weekend, Lux Jets was incorporated.

Working as a qualified solicitor, that’s helped us to build the foundations of the company itself very quickly. I had all the legal knowledge to cover the issues and mitigate the risk that most companies would have to pay for. But for the rest, we really put our heads together and got cracking with it and learned every lesson that came our way. It was ‘What’s the first step?’ followed by the next step and learning from our errors as we go along. 

We knew we had to build that relationship with the operators who operate the aircraft. We had built the company on paper, but then how do we build it in reality? We had tools available to us that allow us to connect via a search engine, and that does it quickly. But for us what we really wanted to do, especially with luxury flights, is build a reliable source of operators – and that’s really just outreaching to people.

That’s where it became difficult sometimes. It’s time-consuming finding out who you want to outreach to, and why. First off, we’d send an email, and the email would be ignored. Then, we would give them a telephone call and introduce ourselves, and I think for the operators that we use, we’re bringing them business as much as they would be bringing and supporting us. So it’s a nice two-way street.”

“We had built the company on paper, but then how do we build it in reality? ”

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“What makes a private jet different from a commercial flight is that you have control over your schedule. Our clientele range from high, net worth individuals up to whole exec-boards. What they all have in common is that they desire flexibility. You can decide to change your flight tomorrow or in a year’s time and you always have flexibility over that schedule. Furthermore, some of our larger corporate clients in the oil and gas sector often need to fly to areas not very accessible like in North Africa, for example. There are not many commercial airports that will accommodate larger aircraft if they’re from mainland Europe. So with the private jet, there are minimal barriers to land at the particular airport that you need.

I will say as well for people that want to fly with their pets – something that we get asked often is can they bring their dog or the cat? And yes, you can with private jets because of less strict requirements on baggage.

Of course, you’re also paying extra for this luxury. There are different sizes of aircraft you can charter. So you’ve got what’s called a very light jet or an air taxi, which usually caters to about four people. You’re looking at around €2,500 per hour of flight time. The more upmarket midsize and heavy jets? You’re looking at €11,000 – €14,000 per hour for the lower bracket. If you want the top-of-the-range Gulfstream, for example, you could be paying €18,000 per hour. Of course, it gets very expensive then if you’re flying longer distances or transatlantic, which could be about 80-90 thousand euros for the flight.

But once you charter a jet, it’s yours. And the more passengers you have the cheaper it is. If you’re spreading it across say six passengers it’s actually fairly reasonable for what you’re getting. But what you’re really paying for is the experience. The pilots are very highly trained and we always ensure that there are two pilots on there. Although it’s not always a requirement, [each flight] is fully catered, and you’ve got a private air hostess or a steward in there. You’re also getting a fixed base of operations – we have the VIP lounge ready for you so you’re not integrated with commercial flight areas in a normal terminal.”

“Our clientele range from high, net worth individuals up to whole exec-boards. What they all have in common is that they desire flexibility.”

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luxury interior of a private jet

“At first, it was mainly people who wanted to just experience the private jet and we got a load of requests coming through from people who were actually just curious about the cost. Now the more reliable clients are business professionals, high-profile individuals, and actually sporting teams are a large source for us. They need to fly larger groups of people so it’s not just the typical private charter but we can arrange larger aircraft that carry larger teams.

We do occasionally get people that have expendable income that wants to upgrade their package and try out an experience. Often when we’ve spoken with our clients we’ll say, “Why are you looking to transition from booking your first class or a business class ticket to a private jet?” and the simple answer is you can’t get a business class or first class ticket from their local airport and they don’t want to pay for premium economy. They want a more up-market experience.

Our main clientele is really people that have a lot of expendable income and who really want to keep away from the masses of commercial flights. High-profile individuals are usually just business owners, although at the moment we have a few requests from celebrities that want to charter or are interested in chartering. So it can be high profile in terms of their social status. But in most cases, it’s in respect to their financial status.

We don’t get a week that is all the same clientele. They all vary, it can be a CEO or a sporting professional the next week. What makes it quite exciting is trying to cater and tailor the experience to the individual needs rather than just being “Here’s the jet. Turn up at this time, alright?” We design the flight around them.”

“What makes it quite exciting is trying to cater and tailor the experience to the individual needs rather than just being “Here’s the jet. Turn up at this time, alright?” We design the flight around them.”

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I think for most operators, they want to keep it as an experience that only a select few can do. It is becoming more accessible but the exclusivity of it demands a high fee.

For example, Empty Leg flights are a brilliant way to chart a jet for a very reasonable price. You can get a private jet chart for about 80% off the standard bespoke price. How they work is, let’s say, someone has charted bespoke from London to Paris, and the next client is down in Nice. That jet has to fly from Paris down to Nice with the plane empty. But what the operators tend to do is offer that particular route for a very heavily discounted price because they have to fly that way anyway. They’d rather recoup some of their money than fly completely empty and waste the fuel cost. So what Empty Legs do is that you can book like you would a commercial flight on a particular route. But it must depart at a particular time. You are foregoing all of the flexibility that you would get by flying bespoke. But of course, you get the added benefit of getting up to 80% off the price.

The private jet industry is large. I didn’t know the exact size but I had a look, and $29 billion is the market cap size at the moment. Most of that will be physical acquisitions. Operators buy up large fleets of jets so they can dominate the market. But chartering is becoming a large size of the market cap. I think mainly because it’s becoming more accessible with Empty Legs for anyone to charter if they’ve got some expendable income, right? And so it’s growing – and it’s very competitive.”

“…chartering is becoming a large size of the market cap. I think mainly because it’s becoming more accessible… And so it’s growing – and it’s very competitive.”

“So mainly travel is to and from the airport so you don’t really want to arrive at your fixed base of operations from the jet in an Uber. Most people want to ride in some sort of SUV or limousine. So we deal with those as the main part of the request. On-board catering is always included unless you specifically ask for a more lavish experience. There are always snacks, but you can also have fully catered flights and some do not come with stewardess experience, so you can add that on too. Most people want to go for the full hog.

One of the oddest requests we’ve been asked to fulfill was last month. I got a telephone call from some lifestyle partners and they wanted to chart a very large group of people. I won’t go into too much detail but about 44 passengers. It was from Amsterdam to Melbourne and they rang me up on Friday and asked me if they could get a jet for 44 passengers on Monday. And we tried our best but it’s an impossible task. We get requests that we really would like to fulfill, but I don’t think there’d be any broker out there that could do such a long-distance flight in such a short time. So I think that will be one that will live with me for a while considering how hard we worked for it. But I think we soon realized that they’d left it too late.

Plus, the environmental issues do concern me. I feel that sometimes it’s easy to pick on the people that you are envious of. It’s the top 1% that do charter the most, and it’s easy to pick on them and say they should be more reasonable in how they travel. But the private jet industry has actually reciprocated in that respect.

More operators are transitioning to what’s called sustainable aviation fuel, which is built up of different fats, greases, and oils. That makes it a renewable source or certainly a sustainable source of fuel rather than the gas which most commercial flights use. But yes, it does concern me – although a private jet compared to let’s say a large Airbus A350, for example, does not emit as much emissions as that particular aircraft. But sustainable aviation fuel will be the way forward, I think.”

“…a private jet compared to let’s say a large Airbus A350, for example, does not emit as much emissions as that particular aircraft. But sustainable aviation fuel will be the way forward, I think.”

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a luxury seat on a private jet getting hit with light from the window

“As a private jet charterer, it’s a 24-hour game. Me and my girlfriend, who’s the other company director, split up the time. She’s more of an early bird and I’m more of a night owl. So for me personally I’d wake up usually around six. Clear my head. I’d usually go to the gym and get rid of the stresses from the previous day. Then I would be at the laptop seeing if we had any requests coming overnight that we need to deal with ASAP. If there are, great, we do that. If not, then the day is spent marketing.

Blogging is a big part of our business structure. We just try and expand the business and then the rest of the day would be spent contacting people individually with the sales pitch to draw people into the Lux Jets brand. So, really the day is spent, I would say 70% on growth and marketing and 30% dealing with the requests on the day. 

If we have multiple in the day, then that fraction splits completely. But sitting before my laptop, trying to think of ways to market and beat the competition – that’s my 24 hours. And usually late nights. I clock off at about 11 o’clock at night, usually. So yes, it’s long hours.

I think my favorite success story is how we built a company itself from nothing. We’ve got plenty of success stories of how our client was happy with our services, but for me personally, the success story is how we’ve built up the business from a pipe dream (as some would have put it). And in fact, those same people said they are actually enjoying the content we put out and the services that we provide. So for me, the business itself is the biggest success story that we’ve got.”

“But sitting before my laptop, trying to think of ways to market and beat the competition – that’s my 24 hours.”

I think if you don’t have a website, you don’t have a business. 50 years ago word of mouth and having a physical presence on the street was how we would get your custom, but everything is now a website. If you don’t have a website – and especially a nice website, that’s easy for people to recognize – I think that your business will flop from the outset.

I think Wix is a great platform to build a website. The developers quite clearly thought about everything that a business would need for a website. Before I started with Lux Jets, I had another website. It was called The Commitment of Traders Club and I built it really for fun as a hobby to see how I would get on with it. I didn’t spend too much time prior to knowing of Wix researching any other website builders because Wix is the one that I think most people think of when they think of the best DIY website builder. I tried Squarespace at the very beginning to build Lux Jets and it was just way too complicated. So I immediately trashed it and moved back over to Wix.

I do think Wix can be a little bit cheeky with their hidden costs. With my email marketing, I was using that perfectly fine until they changed it so you could only send 500 emails or so per month. I forget the figures, exactly, but that made me have to move that elsewhere because we would breach that band and then we’d have to start paying. So if you want to use all the features that Wix offers to the more advanced level, then you have to unfortunately pay for some of those features. That can be a little bit frustrating because if there’s something on there that you really want, but your budget doesn’t allow you to spend it, you often can’t use it

But other than that, nothing else. I can’t praise it enough. [Wix is] perfect for businesses in several respects. My favorite feature on it is the blog. I love how easy it is. But also we’ve got our booking form on there. Once it’s submitted, you can see it on your phone through the app but also straight to your email. I love the way that it’s not just a platform that you build a website on but it’s actually a tool that you use for your business. It complements your business perfectly and I love that.”

“I love the way that it’s not just a platform that you build a website on but it’s actually a tool that you use for your business. It complements your business perfectly and I love that.”

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“The best thing about my job is actually doing what I want to do with it. The company plans to expand into Europe in greater detail and perhaps I see myself residing there at some point. It’s a highly competitive market. There are many brokers out there, and you always have to try and have that edge. Our edge is that we are personable and transparent when you request with us. You’re speaking with either myself or my partner who is the other director. You’re not just speaking to a sales team like most other brokers. We’re also focusing more and more on our blogging aspect. And as I say, Wix is super helpful for that as it deals with all of our concerns that otherwise would have to host on another website. Our focus in the next three months is on SEO and brand exposure, both digitally as well as physically.

All I need to run my business is on my laptop and I can do that from anywhere. It’s just the flexibility and the fact that there’s no one really to talk down to you or tell you what to do. And that’s the nicest thing about it.

I think if you’ve got a dream about starting a website or business, even if you think it’s challenging or an impossible task, my advice is to just give it a go. If you don’t give that go, then you’ll never know. And if all else fails, it’s a learning experience. My first website on Wix had some success, but nowhere near as much as Lux Jets. But I learned from it and then the next venture that you start, you’ve broken the camel’s back in terms of creating something.”

“All I need to run my business is on my laptop and I can do that from anywhere. It’s just the flexibility and the fact that there’s no one really to talk down to you or tell you what to do. And that’s the nicest thing about it.”



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