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Corporate Jet Charter

Owners of private business jets are finding innovative new ways to make use of their planes during idle time, thus helping to defray the costs of aircraft ownership. One of the most interesting opportunities is a corporate jet charter program commonly referred to as the "jet card." The program allows business travellers to purchase "blocks" of travel time which can be used on any number of chartered flights going to their destination. It gives them the flexibility and convenience of a corporate jet charter without the long term commitment and high financial investment.

The jet card program was originally developed by Marquis Jet Partners, Inc., a U.S. company founded in 2001. They partnered with well-known fractional charter company, NetJets, to offer twenty-five our blocks that could be used on any NetJets flights with empty seats. Today the company has more than 4,000 card holders who fly anywhere from twenty-five to fifty hours per year.

Though initially off to a pretty slow start, this corporate jet charter program is now quite successful because it marries those who have the supply with those who have the need. In the fractional ownership model, several companies go into together as co-owners of a single aircraft; much like a time share program in real estate. When one of the partners takes the plane on a business trip, the seats belonging to the other partners remain empty and can be sold to a jet card program. Additionally, a fractional charter jet can be utilized by a company like Marquis during extended periods of down time.

A newer corporate jet charter model, known as shared-ride, has recently entered the market and is making great strides. The shared-ride program is similar to the jet card, yet on a smaller basis. Whereas jet card programs require card holders to pre-purchase blocks of travel time, the shared-ride program works on a pay-as-you-go basis.

In a typical shared-ride scenario, an aircraft owner or fractional group may have a flight planned to a given destination yet have a seat or two remaining empty. That seat can then be offered to a shared-ride program which sells a ticket in much the same way as a commercial airline. The pay-as-you-go system means the ticket price will be higher than it would be with a jet card, but it is still a substantial savings over commercial travel with all the added convenience. The one drawback that seems to be limiting shared-ride programs is the unstable nature of corporate jet charter service. Company plans can change on a moment's notice and disrupt the shared-ride schedule.

With new innovations like the jet card and shared-ride programs, the corporate jet charter sector continues to change in relation to the needs of its clients. What began as a way to utilize excess aircraft left over from World War II has burgeoned into a business worth billions annually. Is it possible that jet chartering will eventually surpass commercial airlines as the predominate method of air travel? Only time will tell.

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