The most affordable private jets available today
If you think owning a private jet is the exclusive domain of the uber-wealthy, prepare to be surprised. Although the term ‘cheap private jet’ might sound like a contradiction, advancements in the aviation industry mean that the prices of some aircraft on the market could be much lower than you expect. Whether you’re shopping – or window shopping – for a very light, light, mid-size, super-mid-size or heavy jet, the most affordable aircraft can be a fraction of the price of the most expensive. We’ve found the cheapest private jet in each category of aircraft.
Very Light Jet: Cirrus Vision Jet
The cheapest private jet is the small but mighty Cirrus Vision Jet at HK$15.5 million. While we would term this a very light jet, the Cirrus Vision sets itself apart as being more of a personal jet. The Cirrus is touted as the world’s first single-engine private jet, and is powered by a Williams International FJ33-5A turbofan engine that produces 1,800 lbs of thrust and can cruise at 555 kmph at a maximum altitude of 28,000 ft. The aircraft is designed to be piloted by the owner, but if you prefer to sit back and enjoy your private jet flights, a pilot can be hired. The cabin is quite spacious for its size, at 1.2 m tall and 1.5 m wide, with large windows and seating for up to five adults and two children – perfect for a business professional who enjoys private family holidays.
Light Jet: Cessna Citation CJ3+
If the Vision Jet sounds a little cramped, you can buy a brand new Cessna Citation CJ3+ for HK$63.2 million. Launched in 2014, the CJ3+ is a new and improved version of the CJ3 with a more comfortable cabin and upgraded avionics. It has a maximum range of 2,040 nautical miles, a luggage capacity of 1,000 lbs, and the cabin can accommodate up to nine passengers with 14 large windows, swing-out seats and a standard lavatory. In 2011, Robb Report voted the Cessna Citation CJ3 the "Best of the Best" in the light jet category, and with the upgraded features and added luxury, the CJ3+ offers much more than you’d expect from a cheap private jet. It’s the ideal choice for a family that plans on flying together for holidays, or as your private and luxurious business boardroom in the sky.
Midsize Jet: Cessna Citation XLS+
The world’s bestselling business jet can be yours for just under HK$102 million. The Cessna Citation XLS+ is a very versatile aircraft, delivering high performance on short- and long-haul flights. It has a maximum cruise speed of 815 kmph and a transcontinental range of 2,100 nautical miles. The cabin is the largest in its class, with fully-reclining leather seats, foldaway tables, seating for up to nine passengers and a galley for food preparation. So this luxury aircraft is perfect for all your private jet flights, whether for business trips or flying esteemed passengers around the world. It’s an outstanding choice for international business leaders who want the ultimate private jet experience without overspending on private jet costs.
Super Midsize Jet: Cessna Citation Sovereign+
Cessna does it again. Their powerful Cessna Citation Sovereign+ is the most affordable super midsize jet available today at almost HK$142.8 million. With a maximum range of 3,200 nautical miles, passengers can fly from Kowloon to Dubai nonstop. The Sovereign X+ is known for its excellent runway performance, with the shortest take-off among private jets in its class. The cabin can accommodate 12 passengers in comfort and the best-in-class external baggage compartment can carry up to 1,435 lbs of luggage. This is an excellent aircraft for those who frequently travel across continents for business or leisure. It’s not about flying a cheap private jet, but making the best investment in this category.
Heavy Jet: Embraer Legacy 650E
While the cost of a heavy jet almost always elicits sticker shock, the cheapest private jet in this category may surprise you. The luxurious Embraer Legacy 650E comes in at around HK$204 million, a fraction of what this private jet should cost when compared to the similar-sized HK$486.7 million Gulfstream G550. The plane has seating for 12-13 passengers in three separate cabin zones, allowing some to work while others sleep or lounge. With a range of 3,900 nautical miles, allowing you to fly nonstop from Hong Kong to New York, it’s a great aircraft for larger families, or businesses, who frequently fly together.
Other costs to consider when buying a private jet
Many factors influence the cost of a private jet, from the size of the aircraft to the distance it can cover. A light jet, for example, will need to refuel more often than larger aircraft, though a larger private jet’s operating costs are going to be much higher if your flights are typically short. Apart from purchasing the jet itself, there are additional costs to consider:
If you're purchasing a jet, you’ll most likely want to fit out the interior of the plane with mod-cons like flat-screen TVs, dining tables, bedrooms, office desks and Wi-Fi. There are a host of companies dedicated to decorating private jet interiors, but be careful not to blow your budget on appliances and other luxuries if you’re keen to keep costs down. Even in a relatively cheap private jet, the most luxurious interiors can cost up to HK$765 million.
Finding the right place to store your aircraft can be one of the most challenging aspects of owning a private jet. A hangar ensures the jet’s cosmetic finish won’t be tarnished by the elements, as well as providing peace of mind that your aircraft is in a secure location. This is also where the maintenance and repairs of your aircraft will take place. If affordability is an important consideration, keep an eye out for a shared hanger within driving distance of your home, but not necessarily closer to the centre of town or main business area.
Private jets have a maintenance inspection cycle related to flight hours, cumulative take-offs and landings, and at prescribed times in the year. An aircraft’s lifespan is measured in flight hours and landings rather than age, so private jets are often viable for decades. However, your private jet will suffer wear and tear over time, so the inspections and maintenance contribute significantly to private jet operating costs.
Staff and Crew
If you’re not going to pilot the jet yourself, you’ll need to pay for a pilot and insurance. And unless you want to be serving and making the food and drinks yourself, cabin crew will need to be factored in too. Though a flight attendant isn’t mandatory, most private jet flights and charter flights will have an attendant on board. There are many companies dedicated to the hiring of staff for your private jet flights, who work with experienced industry professionals to offer you the best possible pilots and attendants available.
Private jet charter
No matter how affordable these private jets may sound, all the added fees of maintenance, interiors and staffing quickly affect the costs related to your private jet ownership. A cheaper option is to charter a private jet for your business or leisure air travel needs instead.
Chartering a private jet gives you all the benefits of private travel without the hefty price tag. You can still use the same airports, and the plane can be booked for you individually or exclusively for your travelling companions. If you aren’t going to be travelling frequently, the average yearly private jet operating cost heavily outweighs that of the average cost to charter a private jet.
Just like there are private jets for a variety of budgets, private jet flights also range from affordable to extravagant. With these smart tactics you can reduce the costs of private flights and fly more often.
Book well in advance to ensure you can charter the jet you want at an affordable rate. Forward-planning can drastically lower the cost, as relatively small and cheap private jets often get booked up early, leaving only a few jets still available for late charter bookings.
You could also look for an empty leg flight. Some charter flights are one-way bookings, so the aircraft flies back to base or on to another location with no passengers onboard. For charter companies, empty leg flights contribute significantly to private jet operating costs. These empty leg flights are therefore often much more affordable than your standard charter, placing private jet flights within reach of a bigger community of discerning travellers. They typically cost between 25 and 75% less than standard private jet flights, depending on a number of factors such as the type of aircraft and route.
We can help you decide which option is right for you. Contact us if you’d like a personalised quote for the aircraft of your choice, or to enquire about available empty leg flights.