How much does a private jet cost? Explore rental and purchase options

luxury interior in the modern business jet and sunlight at the window/sky and clouds through the porthole

Have you ever thought about owning or renting a private jet? It sounds super cool, but there’s a lot to think about, particularly the tricky money part. 

Airplanes, like new cars, have a big price tag, and that’s just the start. There are many other costs involved, such as maintaining the aircraft in good shape, putting in fuel, and paying the people who help to run it. So, before you decide to get your own private jet, there’s a bunch of stuff to learn about how much it really costs. 

This article will help you understand all the costs associated with owning or renting a private jet. 

Before you consider buying a private jet  

Before buying yourself a private jet, you should consider several key factors: 

  • If you fly for at least 240 hours in one year, it could be worth buying your own jet. If not, renting is likely to be cheaper. 
  • Are you flying with a friend or bringing your whole family along? The aircraft size will depend on the number of passengers it needs to carry. A larger group will obviously need a bigger plane, which will incur higher costs compared to a smaller aircraft. 
  • How long will your trip take? Will you be flying overseas? For shorter journeys, opting for an aircraft with a smaller fuel tank is practical. However, if you’re embarking on international travel or a trip involving multiple stops, it’s advisable to get an aircraft with a larger fuel capacity. 
  • If you frequently take one-way flights, you should think about the costs associated with transferring the jet back or holding it in a hangar. 
  • Remember to consider all ongoing expenses, including fuel, aircraft insurance, and storage. Additionally, unforeseen costs like maintenance, downtime and repairs should be factored in. This could result in annual payments ranging from $100,000 to $4 million. 

In any given scenario, the expenses could be greater than the advantages of owning a jet, so your decision should be considered carefully.  

How much does it cost to buy a private jet? 

The cost of purchasing a private jet spans a wide, extensive spectrum, based on an assortment of factors including the plane’s size, age, passenger capacity and range. New jets command higher prices due to advanced technology and modern amenities. Older and used models might be more affordable initially, but ongoing maintenance expenses can make for higher costs.  

The cheapest private jets, generally light jets or older models, can range from $200,000 to $15 million. While it’s challenging to pinpoint the absolute cheapest private jet on the market because prices can vary greatly based on various factors including size, features, and customization options, the single-engine Cirrus Vision Jet, which costs around $2-3 million, is often considered to be the cheapest new private jet on the market.  

At the other end of the spectrum, the most luxurious and cutting-edge models, such as heavy jets or long-range jets, can range anywhere from $20 million to over $600 million. As of writing, the most expensive private jet is the Air Force One Boeing 747-8, which costs around $660 million. 

Aerospace Trek / Shutterstock 

Maintenance costs 

Owning a private jet will entail consistent maintenance to ensure maximum safety and peak performance. Routine inspections, repairs, avionics updates and interior refurbishments all contribute to these maintenance costs. Annual expenses can vary widely depending on the type of jet and its age. 

Of the many expenses associated with private jets, fuel costs stands out the most. Aircraft designed for extended journeys with larger fuel tanks naturally demand more fuel. Take the Bombardier Global 8000 for example, which burns fuel at a rate of 486 gallons or over 1839 liters per hour. In comparison, the Cirrus Vision Jet burns only 50 gallons / just over 189 liters.  

Regardless of whether you’re purchasing or chartering the jet, it’s important to consider the expenses associated with hiring pilots and flight attendants. Equally, the calculation of crew costs, including salaries contingent on their team size and the services they provide, must be taken into account. 

BoJack / Shutterstock 

Financing your private jet 

Financing options for private jets can involve traditional loans, leases or fractional ownership. 

A personal loan involves borrowing money from a bank or credit union. It allows upfront payment for a jet, repayable over time. However, securing such a loan is far tougher than it would be in the case of a car, due to the higher costs involved. Banks typically require excellent credit scores and often request secured loans linked to valuable assets, such as homes. In cases of repayment issues, these assets can be legally seized by the banks. 

Leasing a private jet could be compared to car leasing and can span months or years. It also enables the customer to experience an aircraft before buying it, avoiding ownership complexities such as depreciation and reselling. However, lenders typically require substantial down payments, typically around 20-30% of the aircraft’s cost.  

There are two main types of leases:  

  • A wet lease involves both the aircraft and crew being provided by the lessor, often with operational aspects included. 
  • A dry lease provides only the aircraft, requiring the lessee to arrange crew and handle operational costs separately. 

Fractional ownership programs allow multiple owners to share costs and usage, providing a more affordable entry into private jet ownership. 

Where to buy a private jet 

Private jets can be purchased directly from manufacturers, dealers, or through brokers who specialize in aircraft sales. While many sellers may not list their aircraft on all platforms, your chances of success could increase by directly contacting individual owners through enterprises or marketplaces. Additionally, manufacturer websites often showcase pre-owned private jets, with insights into available inventory, maintenance records, and any refurbishments that may have been performed. 

Please note that extensive research and due diligence are vital to ensuring a fair deal and obtaining a jet that precisely suits your needs. 

How about renting a private jet?  

For those seeking the luxury of private jet travel without the commitment of ownership, chartering is a strong option. Rental costs vary significantly based on factors such as jet and crew size, distance traveled and additional amenities. On average, renting a light jet for a short trip can cost around $1,000 to $8,000 per hour, whereas larger jets for longer distances can range from $8,000 to $25,000 per hour. 

Private jet rent prices can also vary greatly depending on the season and route. The hourly costs listed by providers often don’t include expenses for relocating the plane. Consequently, you also need to factor in the cost of the plane flying to pick you up, and then flying back to its base after your trip.

How about booking just a seat on a private jet? 

To calculate the cost of a seat, you need to know three things: the hourly rate of the plane, the total flight time, and the number of seats on board. For example, if a six-seat jet costs $6,000 per hour and the flight is two hours long, each seat would be around $2,000. 

It’s worth noting that charter operators regularly offer ‘empty leg’ flights at discounted prices. These one-way flights return to their base after dropping off the passengers, potentially saving you up to 75% on private jet charter costs. You can subscribe for alerts to receive immediate notifications as soon as an empty leg opportunity arises. 

Membership programs and mobile apps have also made private jet travel easier. They allow frequent flyers to book individual seats on shared flights for a fraction of the full charter costs. To join a membership program, you should purchase a subscription from a charter company, granting you access to the company’s jets. Subscriptions are usually sold for one or more years at a time. 

Ivan Dudka / Shutterstock 

Key takeaways 

Owning a private jet: 

  • Consider all costs for owning or renting a private jet, including insurance, fuel, and unexpected expenses. 
  • Owning is practical at 240+ hours/year; otherwise, renting is more cost-effective. 
  • Cheapest light jets cost between $200K – $15M. 
  • Heavy jets cost between $20M – $660M. 
  • Financing options are loans, leases and fractional ownership. 

Renting a private jet: 

  • Light jets cost between $1K – $8K per hour. 
  • Large jets cost between $8K – $25K per hour. 
  • Rental prices vary seasonally and by route. 

Booking a seat on a private jet: 

  • A two-hour flight on a six-seat jet that costs $6K per hour = a single seat costs $2K. 
  • Charter operators regularly offer ‘empty leg’ flights.  
  • Membership programs and apps allow seat booking at reduced prices. 
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