From above: JetCorp Australia
As expected, private jet hire doesn’t come cheap. Even taking into account the cost of flying the extended family first class, it still ends up more expensive (sometimes twice as much) than commercial flying. The benefits however really stack up: total privacy, complete comfort, the option of flying right through non-stop (or with one fuel stop), and avoiding lengthy and stressful immigration and security queues. In most cases customs and quarantine can be done onboard. “It’s a very pleasant way to travel with double beds, mood lighting, entertainment for children and plenty of space. The holiday really starts the moment the family step onboard. They can arrive just 15 minutes prior to departure, they all know each other and the first thing that comes off is the tie. The family can choose the type of cuisine they’d like to eat onboard, whether it’s sushi, vegetarian or halal, and can maximise their time together. It’s a fantastic way to travel.”
While the United States is the major hub for corporate jets and fractional ownership, the size of Australia’s population and geographical expanse doesn’t make part ownership viable. Private air charter, however, is definitely a growing market with families, compared to say 10 years ago, due to the buoyant economy, the number of major companies operating in the region and the erosion of airline standards for business and first class travellers. Also gaining popularity are the likes of online operators such as EmptyJets.com.au, which links passengers with empty charter flights throughout Australia and beyond, at a fraction of the regular charter price.
Luxury destinations such as Cannes, Utah, Aspen, Banff, Courchevel in the French Alps and the Cote D’ Azur regularly top the list of favourite destinations, while high-end resorts like Laucala in Fiji also attract private jets. Because Laucala has its own international airport, guests can fly straight to the island avoiding Nadi Airport altogether. “We’ve long been popular with the US market, and are now noticing an increasing number of Australian guests wanting to fly their own private jets or chartered private aircraft into Laucala – particularly families. This is primarily because we are one of the very few upscale resorts that offer this facility for private air charters, and welcome families with luxury accommodation, nannies, privacy and more,” says Michelle Taylor, general manager of sales and marketing for Travel the World, who represent Laucala in Australia. Taylor says the main benefits of being able to fly directly to an island resort like Laucala are comfort and time savings. “You can fly straight to the island, immigration and customs are done for you. You can come for a long weekend and leave when you want, as opposed to departing at midday for a 6pm flight home.”