W ith the introduction of Very Light Jets (VLJs) onto the aircraft market comes a new type of air taxi service which can cut the cost of executive jet charter by around 30%...
Very Light Jets are compact jet planes capable of carrying 4-5 passengers on shorter range flights of up to about 1,200 miles.
They are ideal for shuttling 2 or 3 executives between the financial centres of Europe - say London, Paris, Frankfurt, Geneva and Zurich; or small groups on special leisure trips and days out.
The following charter companies in the UK are operating VLJ aircraft:
Blink - The main VLJ operator in the UK with hubs in London, Geneva, and the Channel Islands. Operates a fleet of Cessna Citation Mustangs which have 4 club-style seats (2-2 face-to-face configuration). Light refreshments are available on board (no cabin crew) and there is a toilet available.
Typical pricing: A day return from London to Amsterdam will cost around £4,500. A one-way flight from London to Cannes will cost around £6,850. Blink offers advance purchase fare tariffs which can be booked 21/14/7/3 days in advance - which will be cheaper than booking at the last minute. Blink has a useful online price quote engine.
Blink also offers empty leg flights at a reasonable discount to the standard charter price.
Note that landing fees are added to the base fares and these can vary significantly but are typically in the range £100-£500. You may wish to avoid London City airport which charges a hefty £1,800.
Blink also offers block hours and fractional ownership programs. Blink Foresight is a 50 hour card that costs £75,000 for 50 hours. Blink Club is a fractional program offering a 1/4 share (150 hours), 1/2 share (300 hours) or full share (600 hours).
London Executive Aviation - Long established charter operator based at London City airport. Also has hubs at Farnborough, Luton, Stansted, Biggin Hill, Stapleford and Oxford. Has 4 Cessna Citation Mustangs available for charters at rates up to 30% less than a standard light jet. Was the first European operator of the Mustang.
FlairJet - Small operator using Embraer Phenom 100s (and the larger Embraer Phenom 300s) at Oxford, East Midlands and Dublin. Offers charters and also works closely with various air charter brokers.
The VLJ air taxi market had been anticipated to grow significantly. However the ongoing financial crisis and high price of fuel has meant many operators have failed to get off the ground. This includes the likes of JetBird (Germany) Bikkair (Netherlands), Taxijet (Spain) and DayJet (USA).