Pre-purchasing a block of hours in a private jet
It was one of our company directors who pioneered the concept of block hours for private jets around 14 years ago. Now there are many block hours programmes available but you need to be careful before entering into a contract in order to make sure you understand exactly what you are buying and whether it is the right programme for your pattern of flights.
For example many block hours programmes work on the “occupied Hourly Rate “ principal whereby your all inclusive hourly rate is charged for the time you actually fly in the aircraft from take off to landing plus 0.1 hours at each end for taxiing time. Therefore if your flight is a day return, one night, or two night stop and then back to your airport of departure, you will pay considerably more if you are using a block of 'occupied flight hours'.
These hours should only be used for one way flights where your stay is three nights or longer.
So you will be offered anything from 20 to 100 hours at a rate starting around £4,500 per occupied flight hour for a light jet with six passenger seats. If you are put on an aircraft with less than six seats then you are paying too much.
Your block hours provider may then offer you the option of taking actual flight times or fixed flight times. As a rule of thumb if you take actual flight times some flights will be over and some under due to the wind direction on the day and overall you should come out even. If you go for fixed flight times then your provider will add 0.1 to the still wind times for each flight leg and you will end up more than likely paying more…or getting less hours for your up front payment.
The main benefits of a block hours contract is that you will get guaranteed availability at a consistent price as long as you give 24 hours notice. You will only need this if you often need to fly at very short notice. If you can give a week or two’s notice then you don’t need to have guarantees.
Most of these type of contracts have caveats for busy times of the year such as February half term weekend when everyone wants to go skiing on the same day or the Monte Carlo grand prix weekend which is also very busy. At most other times you can get a suitable plane within a few days notice. Make sure you understand what you are paying for especially looking out for a fuel surcharge clause in the agreement.