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THE FAMILY JET

Once the realm of presidents and rock stars, private jet hire is now a viable choice for cash rich, time poor families. And the best thing is the holiday starts the moment you step onboard.


WORDS Sheriden Rhodes

Angelina and Brad do it. So do Rupert Murdoch and Nicole Kidman. But hiring your own private jet is no longer exclusively in the realm of the powerful and famous. Private jet travel is on the rise in Australia, with families forking out tens of thousands to fly in style and comfort. Jetcorp Australia CEO Barry Graham, says not only is private air charter gaining popularity for business use, the market for leisure use is also on the up as families opt for private charter flights to glamorous destinations around the globe.

In Australia, private jet users are typically high net worth individuals who work hard all year and approaching Christmas through early January use a private jet to travel for three to four weeks with their family, or go to one destination and simply chill out with loved ones. “These are people who generally don’t get the chance to take time out during the year,” says Graham. And with access to virtually any type of aircraft, five star families can fly almost anywhere in the world non-stop, or with just one fuel and immigration stop. “It could be Western Europe, Tahiti, the Maldives, Florida, New York or as close as New Zealand,” says Graham.

Within Australia, Hamilton Island is a popular choice for quick getaways, given it’s only a luxury boat trip or seaplane flight away to five star Hayman Island or a golf buggy ride to qualia’s private beach house. Alternatively some families opt to sail off on island hopping cruises around the Whitsundays with the likes of Descarda luxury charters. Popular choices during our summer (northern hemisphere winter), are skiing in Canada, Japan or the United States where families can enjoy a white Christmas at world-class ski resorts. “Our clients are sophisticated travellers, with limited time who usually have a firm idea of where they want to go. They come to us with their requirements and we organise the logistics,” Graham explains.

From above: Adagold interior
JetCorp Australia

 

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.”


Info:
 Jetcorp Australia  www.jetcorpaustralia.com 
 Ada Gold www.adagold.com.au
 ExecuJet www.execujet.net
 Empty Jet www.emptyjets.com.au

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