Prices for private aviation flights continue to rise. Several factors are adding to the increasing prices including record demand, increasing aviation fuel charges and a shortage of both planes and crews. This is driving prices across the board and is most obvious in jet cards, where card providers have been increasing their hourly rates.
Hourly Pricing Up
Jet card prices provide the simplest and cleanest view of the movements in pricing, because the cards provide a fixed hourly rate, which typically includes most additional costs. (In comparison, jet charter prices are custom quoted for each trip and vary enormously depending on the precise details of the trip. With jet charter prices you need to make sure that all the potential additional items are included, such as landing fees, overnight fees, crew per diems, aircraft repositioning or empty legs and more).
On SherpaReport we constantly update the multiple jet card program details in the member area on the site. Here’s one example of the pricing in just one program, at the start of 2021, just 18 months ago, a light jet was $5,800 an hour, this has now jumped to $7,900 an hour, a $2,100 or 36% increase in just 18 months. This sort of increase is typical across jet card programs.
Initially during the pandemic, as demand for private aviation rebounded, it was the pricing on smaller light jets that first started to rise. This was driven by people just doing shorter domestic leisure flights but demand has now bounced back for larger aircraft and the hourly pricing is rising for all aircraft sizes.
As other examples, pricing on super-mids in typical jet card programs has gone from $10k-$11k per hour to 12k+ per hour. This is not as large a percentage rise as for smaller aircraft, but still a significant increase.
The relative % differential between a light jet and a larger mid or super-mid has also narrowed, which makes the larger aircraft somewhat more appealing.
As you’ll well know if you fill your cars tank with gas, the fuel prices have increased enormously. The price of Jet A aviation fuel is over $13 a gallon at certain airports in some parts of the country. For instance, at the time of writing at Logan International Airport in Boston, MA, the Jet A is $13.62 per gallon. The national average price is $6.78 according to AirNav.
Fuel is a significant part of the hourly operating cost for any aircraft. As an example, the HondaJet, a light jet, burns about 102 gallons an hour. An increase of say $2.50 in the price of a gallon of Jet A will add over $250 per hour to operating costs.
A large cabin, long range jet may burn 400-500 gallons an hour, so a $2.50 gallon increase can add well over $1,000 an hour to operating costs.
As fuel prices have risen, operators have brought back or increased fuel surcharges and are changing these on a frequent basis as fuel prices fluctuate.