How to Start a Private Jet Charter Business: The Complete Guide

As a small business consultant who has guided dozens of entrepreneurs through launching aviation companies, I‘ve seen private jet charters become an increasingly profitable industry catering to elite clientele. Though complex, for the right driven founder with deep knowledge and strategic planning, the returns can be well worth the effort.

Here is my comprehensive, step-by-step guide to starting a private jet charter business based on industry insights and working with real-world clients.

Size Up the Market Potential

Before investing significant capital, thoroughly analyze whether your region can support a charter operation.

  • Research the current private aviation market size using resources like IBISWorld
  • Study the competitve landscape and pricing levels with tools like ZoomInfo
  • Talk to prospective customers about their charter needs and preferences
  • Identify market gaps your company could uniquely fill

Viable opportunities still exist as the global private jet market expands at 3.04% CAGR, reaching $269 billion by 2030.

Choose the Right Business Structure

Consult aviation legal and tax professionals to decide between:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability company
  • S corporation
  • C corporation

The right structure balances liability protection, taxes, investor opportunities and ease of scaling. Most clients opt for limited liability companies, combining pass-through taxation with reduced personal liability.

Obtain FAA Air Charter Certification

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues operating certificates under 14 CFR Part 135 allowing commercial domestic and international charter flights.

The Part 135 certification process involves:

  • Creating in-depth flight operation manuals
  • Hiring competent personnel
  • Maintaining airworthiness of aircraft
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol testing
  • Demonstration flights
  • Extensive record-keeping

This comprehensive process can take 6-12 months. Consulting aviation legal professionals from the start helps expedites approval.

Purchase Aircraft Wisely

One of the biggest capital investments is the actual private jets. New aircraft cost anywhere from $3 million for a light jet up to $70 million for a long-range heavy jet. When starting, carefully factor in:

  • Hours flown annually
  • Operating costs per flight hour
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Range capabilities
  • Passenger capacity
  • Available amenities

Also weigh purchasing vs leasing options to conserve working capital.

Build Operational Infrastructure

Before hosting a single charter flight, lay the required operational groundwork:

  • Secure airport hangar space to store and maintain jets in-between flights
  • Contract experienced mechanics and technicians to keep the fleet in peak condition
  • Invest in aviation fueling infrastructure and ground handling equipment
  • Hire dispatchers and develop scheduling infrastructure to efficiently coordinate flights

Having in-house teams versus outsourcing these functions affects service quality and income potential.

Recruit Specialized Aviation Staff

A jet charter company relies heavily on knowledgeable, experienced staff working cohesively. Key roles include:

  • Experienced commercial pilots: Captains and first officers must have thousands of flight hours logged
  • Premium cabin crew: Flight attendants providing five-star hospitality and amenities
  • Operations experts: Dispatchers, schedulers, compliance officers
  • Sales staff: Account managers closing deals with clients
  • Marketing team: Brand strategists and digital marketers

Vet each thoroughly for needed licenses, credentials and references during the interview process.

Market Your Charter Services

Promote your company‘s niche value proposition and differentiators aggressively from launch, across channels like:

  • Search engine marketing
  • Highly targeted Google/Facebook ads
  • Print advertising in luxury/business magazines
  • Radio spots near private airports
  • Attending conferences, golf events to engage one-on-one
  • Partnerships with luxury brands

Catchy slogans, professional branding and leveraging referrals also raises visibility.

Deliver White Glove, Consistent Service

Above satisfying basic transportation needs, private jet clients expect truly exceptional end-to-end experiences.

  • Greet passengers curbside
  • Speed them through security protocols
  • Provide gourmet catering and top-shelf beverages
  • Offer WiFi, entertainment systems and total comfort
  • Personalize each aspect of the journey

Exceeding expectations earns loyal, high-value frequent flyers.

Make Safety Your Top Priority

As mishaps can permanently sink your reputation, safety cannot be compromised.

  • Establish rigorous aircraft maintenance routines
  • Invest heavily in ongoing pilot/staff training
  • Document policies, processes extensively
  • Conduct regular internal audits
  • Continuously monitor industry best practices

So if you have deep aviation experience combined with business acumen and an obsession for world-class service, a private jet charter operation can prove an extremely rewarding entrepreneurial venture in the coming years.