P rivate jet charter is a good option for lighter users who do not wish to purchase a jet card, fraction or an entire aircraft...
Whilst a day return is the most cost-effective way of utilising a standard air charter, so called "empty legs" can be an excellent way of chartering a jet with savings of up to 75%. To utilise an empty leg you must be quite flexible in your schedule and willing to book at the last minute, subject to availability. A number of jet charter operators and brokers offer empty leg flights for sale.
What is an empty leg?
If a jet is chartered one-way from New York to Los Angeles, the charter company still has to fly the jet back to its New York home base within a day or two - rather than leave it parked in LA. Usually the operator is not able to sell this flight back to paying passengers so it must fly back empty - hence the name 'empty leg', also known as a 'deadhead' or a 'backhaul'. Because flying empty planes costs money, the original one-way customer pays a surcharge in the charter to cover the cost of the flight back.
It is estimated that around 40% of all private business jet flights are actually empty legs - although this can be reduced by a well managed aircraft operator using sound logistics. Empty legs are common on aircraft with fractional owners and jet card members - where multiple clients make many one-way flights.
Like an empty airline seat sold cheaply at the last minute, the jet operator will offer to sell these empty leg flights at a highly reduced price to the normal jet charter rate - after all, the marginal cost is small and any revenue received will help the bottom line of the company.
For example, executive jet broker StudioJet regularly offers a 'large jet' empty leg for $18,000 - $33,000 from to Los Angeles to New York - this works between $1,400 and $2,500 per person on a full load of 13 passengers. Booking last minute one-way airfares in first class on a scheduled airline would be around the same price.
StudioJet also offers empty legs on a large jet between London and New York for $60,900 to $85,000 - for 13 passengers this is $4,700 to $6,600 per person. Consider that a last minute one way flight in British Airways First from London to New York could easily cost $9,800.
There are dozens of private jet operators and brokers offering empty leg flights - a simple internet search for "empty leg Florida" or "empty leg UK" (or wherever your origin/destination is) can bring applicable results, though do your homework. Find out who the aircraft operator is, check the aircraft type/age and ask for references. When getting a quote for an empty leg ask about the cost of any other fees and airport taxes.
leg flights are available world-wide though obviously they are much easier to
find for popular private jet routes - particularly between major business centres
and also to high-end tourist destinations (Caribbean, Mediterranean, ski resorts).
So if you have some flexibility in your travel plans then finding an empty leg could mean flying on an executive jet at a very reasonable cost.
Note: Always undertake a full financial analysis with a qualified professional before purchasing any form of private jet.