Oil is Cheap: Will Private Jet Access Take Off?

February 1, 2015

8:00 am

The short answer is maybe. With the price of Jet A oil, one of the most commonly-used private jet fuels, falling by 9.5 % in the last twelve months, we could start to see the prices for private charter companies start to shift.

The price for U.S. crude oil plummeted to $46 per barrel in the second week of January, sparking one private jet company, Magellan Jets, into action. How? By turning their savings into benefits for their valuable members.

Magellan have started cutting the fees for membership contracts by 16% from January 15th. Although the company expects to make an initial loss, they could eventually end up doubling their amount of customers.

But are the oil prices really going to make flying by private jet more accessible to the average flier?

In terms of pure financials, not really. Despite Magellan leading the charge, aviation companies, including other private charters, aren’t changing their prices at the moment.

UK based private charter company, Bespoke Air Charter commented that “if we do see a sustained decline in oil prices then we may see an increase in the number of flights booked by private jet by those who can already afford them.”

If this lowered cost for fuel triggers reductions in flight costs and therefore more flights, we could see more empty leg charters come available (empty leg charters being when a one way flight is booked and the “empty” return flight is made available at a cheaper rate).

The usual drawbacks with empty legs will still be a factor, meaning you would still be tied to a set location and time of travel, with some private planes flying only to small airports rather than major ones.

Equally, the advantages are the same too, with increased legroom, your own personal space and, as smaller planes can fly at a higher altitude than commercial flights, you could save time by having a shorter journey.

Ultimately, for those quick to the draw, there could be a chance to snap up great deals as more empty legs turn up and need to be filled for those already able to afford business class tickets.

The long answer is that the oil prices could have a knock-on effect for private plane costs, but that might not change how accessible private charters are. Economy fliers are very unlikely to ever sip a martini from their reclinable chair in a private jet.

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Simon Davies is a London based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues and solutions.

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