More executives turning to private jets

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

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So you’re  on the brink of closing a lucrative deal, but while standing in line at the airport the terminal intercom announces that your flight has been delayed, again.

It’s reason enough to think about renting a private plane. As instances of lengthy flight delays at commercial airports hit new record highs, according to a recent Department of Transportation report, what might have seemed like an extravagance before might seem like a bottom-line business necessity now.

The trials of commercial flying are a boon to private jet charter companies as customers who seek not just luxury but also reliability and punctuality abandon the airlines and hire their own jet, says Flo Newton, president of Global Aviation, a jet charter company based at Hillsboro-Portland International Airport.

“They don’t want to be at the mercy of the airlines,” says Newton.

Sure, the luxury doesn’t hurt, but it’s also about the convenience of avoiding time-consuming security lines in a post 9/11 world, says Mike Selby, director of flight operations at Flightcraft, a Portland-based jet charter service.

“They drive their car right up to the plane,” Selby says.

Overindulgent? Maybe. But at least it’s easier than renting even the sexiest car. Most charter services will provide a quote over the phone based on your needs, which can depend on travel distance, speed and amenities, to what type of jet satisfies your innermost flying ego.

For charter services the rates are hourly, ranging from $1,450 per hour for a turbo-prop jet at Flightcraft up to $8,000 per hour for the posh Gulfstream at Global Aviation. But don’t worry, you don’t have to fly the planes yourself; both come with pilots.

The prices can seem justifiable, even comparable, when factoring in the cost of hotel fees and lost time when flying commercial, says Selby. After all, closing that big deal on time might be worth millions.

Or if chartering a jet just isn’t enough of a rebellion against the airlines, you might want to really splurge by becoming a fractional owner of a plane through New York-based Marquis Jet. Starting at $126,900 for a 25-hour Jet Card, you get on-call access to the Berkshire Hathaway-owned NetJet fleet. And you can say you did business with Warren Buffet.                                    

JASON SHUFFLER



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