I’m fascinated by airline operations. Many major airlines have fleet sizes upwards of 800 aircraft. Now consider many of these planes operate non-stop, requiring hundreds-of-thousands of litres of fuel for each journey, and a small army of staff to keep running, operating costs can quickly add up.
Recently reading an article titled, “Qatar’s emir ‘gives $500m private jet to Turkey” (a Boeing 747-8i), I started exploring the costs of operating your own private jet.
With Christmas quickly approaching, I’ve created a (tongue in cheek) buyers guide for private jets. When a pair of socks won’t cut it, perhaps a private jet will suffice?
The following analysis uses aircraft data (including list prices, number of seats, and fuel efficiency) sourced from aircraftcompare.com. Jet fuel prices used to calculate fuel costs were obtained from IATA in October 2018.
List Cost of Private Jets
|Price Rank||Manufacturer||Model||Price Ave (millions) USD|
|5||Airbus||A340 Private Jet||236|
|3||Boeing||747 8 VIP||295|
|2||Boeing||New Air Force One||390|
|1||Airbus||A380 Private Jet||402|
The A380, the largest commercial passenger plane with a potential capacity of 900 passengers, is offered by Airbus as a private jet. The company has reported 5 orders, potentially worth almost $2 billion. Many articles detailing the incredible configurations of private A380’s exist online (including flying garages).
At the other end of the scale, smaller regional private aircraft with ranges below 5,000 kilometers (London to New York is 5,567 km) can be purchased for under $10 million.
List Cost Per Seat of Private Jets
|Rank cost per seat||Manufacturer||Model||Cost per seat (millions) USD|
|5||Boeing||New Air Force One||3.82|
|4||Airbus||A340 Private Jet||3.93|
|1||Boeing||747 8 VIP||9.22|
The current Air Force One (a highly modified Boeing 747) has room for 102 passengers. Each seat, based on the list cost of $390 million, is worth $3.82 million each. A modified Boeing 747 8 VIP with an average cost of $295 million has just 32 seats, making it the private aircraft with the highest cost per seat at $9.22 million each!
Only 3 planes have cost per seat less than $1 million. The Boeing BBJ, is the only mid to long-range jet (range 7,223km) with a cost per seat less than $1 million.
Private Jet Fuel Efficiency
|Fuel cost p / litre / pax rank||Manufacturer||Model||Fuel cost p / litre USD||Fuel cost p / litre / pax USD|
|49||Dassault||Falcon 2000 LX||$0.76||$0.04|
|47||Dassault||Falcon 2000 DX||$0.82||$0.04|
|4||Airbus||A340 Private Jet||$8.62||$0.14|
|1||Boeing||747 8 VIP||$8.62||$0.27|
Don’t forget, even after spending millions on a jet, you’re going to need to fuel it too (along with all the other ongoing costs). The most fuel efficient jet in our list is the Boeing Business Jet. Assuming it flies at full capacity (63), each passenger will cost $0.02 per kilometre they travel. In contrast, each passenger on a 747 8 VIP will cost $0.27 per kilometre they travel (max pax 32).
The A380 Private Jet costing $10.35 per kilometre to fly and Air Force One costing $8.62 per kilometre to fly are much more fuel efficient when compared to the 747 8 VIP because they all have the potential to carry significantly more passengers (both over 100).
In some cases, the aircraft pricing data seems slightly inaccurate (perhaps out-of-date). For example, Boeing and Airbus publish the list prices of aircraft on their website. The lists do not include private jets, but in some cases the private jet cost is lower than the commercial (which does not appear correct). As such, the accuracy of this analysis would be improved if pricing and specifications were obtained directly from the manufacturers, if possible.
Long-range private jets (range greater than 10,000km) can be purchased for upwards of $39 million (Gulfstream V) to $402 million (Airbus A380 Private Jet). Don’t forget the operating costs though. An A380 will cost around $160,000 to fuel.
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