Think a private jet is too expensive for your business? Think again. "There are a number of new fractional-ownership options for people without huge travel budgets," says Joe Moeggenberg, president of the Aviation Research Group, an aviation consulting company in Cincinnati.
The options-the equivalent of owning a timeshare in a plane-are becoming popular among small-business owners. A recent study by J.D. Power and Associates found business aircraft use increased 44 percent in the past year. Why? The study concluded that private aircraft can save a traveler one whole month per year that would otherwise be wasted in transit. Here are some options:
- Less is more. For as little as $100,000 a year, you can partner with other companies to acquire a share in an aircraft. This could buy you as much as 25 hours of flight time. You'll need an aviation lawyer to guide you through the process.
- Hybrid options. Commercial carriers offer flights combining the best elements of a charter, commercial and fractional-ownership program. For example, on Delta's AirElite (www.airelite.com), you can earn frequent-flier miles. Operators such as Marquis Jet Partners sell flight time in blocks of 25 hours, which cost $109,000 to $329,000 (www.marquisjets.com) and have fewer strings attached than a fractional plan.
- Own your own. A 1/16 share in a Cessna Citation jet-the smallest share currently available through a fractional-ownership program-costs $200,000 a year for 50 hours of flying time. Check out Flexjet (www.flexjet.com), FlightOptions (www.flightoptions.com) or NetJets (www.netjets.com).
If you travel to destinations not typically served by major airlines, spend too much time in transit and spend at least $250,000 a year on air travel, fractional ownership is worth looking into.
Christopher Elliott is a writer and commentator and the editor of www.elliott.org.