The most important decision factors before buying a private jet

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Price fluctuations and price differences for Business Jets

The investment amount you have to plan for the purchase of a private jet is subject to strong fluctuations depending on the economic situation. This particularly affects the prices of business jets with previous owners (used aircraft).

In times of pandemic, sales prices hold up surprisingly well because private aircraft offer significantly greater security against infection and their flexibility for relatively short-term adjustments to possible destinations is high, keeping prices stable.

Large ranges exist for the purchase of a new or used aircraft even in "normal" times. They come about due to the differences in size and range and passenger capacity as well as equipment variants.

Private jet with open door and Porsche at the airport.
Porsche waiting on tarmac with private jet

Which aircraft or private jet suits my needs?

Due to the enormous range of private aircraft in terms of range, passenger capacity and comfort (cabin height, etc.), you should first analyse your own needs. The answers to the following three questions already allow you to narrow down the business jet category you are considering.

  • How many passengers need to be transported and how far?
  • Is transatlantic range (more than 6,000 km) required?
  • Does it have to be possible to fly to airports with short runways?

Aircraft with intra-European ranges of 2,000 to 3,000 km usually have a lower headroom and are comparatively cheap to buy. This category includes light and midsize jets with a maximum take-off mass in the range of 5,900 to 10,000 kilograms.

An important decision factor for you might also be the aircraft's ability to make do with short runways, because you could then use many more airfields to land and take off closer to your destination.

If you want to travel global distances frequently, heavy jets with long-range capability are a good choice.

Except for light and very light jets with limited range, the speed of turbine aircraft plays only a minor role because, for physical reasons, turbine aircraft almost all fly at a cruising speed of around 830 km/h (450 knots) at cruising altitude.

Once one has settled on a business jet category, the following questions help to further narrow down the purchase options.

  • How important is cabin comfort (headroom in the cabin, legroom, cabin lavatory, etc.)?
  • How loud can the cabin interior noise be in flight at cruising speed?
  • Does the baggage compartment have to be accessible from the cabin?

A baggage compartment that is accessible from the cabin may come in handy in flight to be able to take work utensils or other needed items from the baggage.

  • How important is the external appearance of the aircraft (image, prestige)?

How much does a private jet/private aircraft cost?

The range of costs for a new or used private jet is very wide:

  • Light jets such as various models from the house of Cessna, as used aircraft, are mainly aimed at so-called owner pilots who want to fly their aircraft themselves. Depending on the age and total number of hours, you have to reckon with prices ranging from just under 1 million euros to about 6 million euros.
  • European range aircraft from manufacturers such as Embraer and many others are available used for prices in the range of 5 million to 15 million euros.
  • Long-range aircraft such as certain models from Gulfstream like the extended-range G650ER regularly command more than 50 million euros, even as a young used aircraft.

Price examples: Acquisition costs of a business jet

Category
Manufacturer
Model
New Jet price
Used Jet price
Very Light Jet
Embraer
Phenom 100
3.06 Million EUR
2.35 Million EUR
Very Light Jet
Cessna
Citation Mustang
2.39 Million EUR
1.80 Million EUR
Light Jet
Cessna
Citation CJ2/CJ2+
5.24 Million EUR
3.93 Million EUR
Light Jet
Cessna
Citation CJ3
6.14 Million EUR
4.60 Million EUR
Super Light Jet
Embraer
Phenom 300
6.65 Million EUR
5.57 Million EUR
Midsize Jet
Cessna
Citation XLS/XLS+
9.50 Million EUR
7.71 Million EUR
Heavy Jet
Embraer
Legacy 600
19.36 Million EUR
13.72 Million EUR
Heavy Jet
Embraer
Legacy 650
22.35 Million EUR
20.44 Million EUR

Beware of supposed bargains

Offers of used business jets with an extraordinarily favourable price should be viewed with caution. It is possible that the aircraft is still subject to technical modifications stipulated by the authorities (engines, avionics, etc.). This could quickly become an unforeseen cost driver.

Cost factor flight operating licence

The investment costs for the acquisition of the private jet are only one side of the coin, because unlike a small, single-engine private aircraft such as a Cessna 172, you cannot simply sit down in your own business jet and fly away. The European certification authority EASA considers any business aircraft equipped with one or more jet engines or with at least two propeller turbines to be a so-called "complex aircraft".

These aircraft may only be operated by a professional flight operation with an AOC (commercial flight operation licence) and must be technically maintained in a certified maintenance organisation. This means that the operation of the aircraft by the professional flight operation is burdened with high ancillary costs. If, on the other hand, your fleet "only" consists of a jet aircraft or turboprop, there is also the possibility of integrating the aircraft into an already existing professional flight and maintenance operation against payment of a certain management fee.

What are the running costs after buying a private jet?

Unlike a rental aircraft, owning a private jet incurs ongoing costs that must be borne by the owner.

Fixed costs include the following areas, among others:

  • Loss of value
  • Financing costs
  • Insurance
  • Hangar rent
  • Registration and licence fees
  • Personnel costs for permanent aviation staff

In addition, the variable amounts must also be included in the annual cost calculation. The variable costs can be divided into variable costs per flight hour and variable costs per flight.

Variable costs per flight hour:

  • Consumables and consumable goods (e.g. aircraft fuel)
  • Personnel costs (if crew members are paid on an hourly basis)
  • Maintenance costs per flight hour according to maintenance plan

Variable costs per flight:

  • Landing and handling costs
  • Cleaning costs
  • Additional maintenance costs per flight according to maintenance plan
Calculation example total annual costs:
Fixed costs + (flight hours * variable costs per flight hour) + (flights * variable costs per flight) = total annual costs
1,000,000 EUR + (300 hours * 1000 EUR) + (75 flights * 800) = 1,360,000 EUR

Buying vs. renting a private jet: The financial view

In our fictitious calculation example above, the total costs per flight hour are around EUR 4,500 (EUR 1,360,000 total annual costs / 300 flight hours). If we compare this with the average hourly prices for business jet charters (see table), it quickly becomes clear: from a financial point of view, the purchase of a private aircraft is only worthwhile if it is used frequently. Aviation experts largely agree on 400 flight hours per year as a guideline. If this limit is exceeded, the purchase of a business jet is also worthwhile from a financial point of view.

Private jet category
Charter price per flight hour
Heavy Jet
6.250 - 6.750 EUR
Midsize Jet
3.000 - 3.500 EUR
Super Light Jet
2.750 - 3.250 EUR
Light Jet
2.250 - 2.750 EUR
Very Light Jet
1.500 - 2.000 EUR

Where can you buy private jets?

There are several options for buying a business jet.

Order directly from the manufacturer

When buying from the factory, you can be sure of purchasing a private jet in absolutely new condition. However, depending on the manufacturer and model, there may be longer waiting times.

Specialised classified ad markets

Through advertisements in internet-based classified ad markets, one can get in direct contact with sellers of used aircraft. However, comparable to buying a used car privately, this option carries higher risks.

Aircraft brokers

Professional aircraft brokers offer assistance with all steps of the business jet purchase process. First-time buyers in particular benefit from the know-how of industry experts.

How does the purchase of a private jet work?

From the decision for a certain private jet to the first flight, there are still some organisational hurdles to overcome. First-time private jet buyers in particular often rely on the professional help of aircraft brokers, who support you with consulting services in the following sub-steps:

  1. Price negotiations
  2. Financing
  3. Contractual/legal matters
  4. Organising delivery
  5. Ad-hoc support in case of other unforeseen problems in the purchase and delivery process

Conclusion: Buy a private jet?

The decision to purchase a private jet should be carefully considered. In addition to acquisition costs in the millions, running costs such as maintenance, licence costs and salaries should also be taken into account.

From a financial point of view, the purchase of a business jet is only worthwhile for a very specific requirement profile: Above all, frequent flyers (> 400 annual flight hours) with predictable requirements for capacity and range fly more cheaply in their own jet.

But not every purchase decision has to lead to cost savings: Those who are not concerned about costs can possibly fulfil a dream with a private jet and choose a model that exactly meets their expectations.

Lunajets tip: If you are thinking about buying a private jet but are still undecided about which model is right for you, you could try private jet rental for the time being. Well-connected brokers with a large network are happy to take into account personal preferences regarding specific models and equipment features.