They are regarded as toys of the wealthy elite and a luxury few will ever experience.
Traveling by private jet – which for so long has been the exclusive domain of rich businessmen and rockstars – is becoming more and more accessible at prices so low they can beat those of the budget airlines.
Empty-leg flights are those taken by an aircraft with only the pilots on board as they travel either en-route to collecting their passengers or returning after having dropped them off.
Adam Twidell, CEO of PrivateFly, explained: ‘An empty leg comes about when a private jet is repositioning.
‘As the aircraft is flying empty, the owner or operator will often be happy to sell this one-way leg at a big discount – often a fraction of the full price.
‘Europe’s private jet traffic sees a significant peak in the summer, so there are many more empty leg flights available, and amazing deals to be had.’
With flexibility around what date you travel, and with a group large enough to offset the one-off chartering fee, everyday Britons are travelling at rates which can rival or better those of the budget airlines.
A brief search today on private jet price comparison website Victor revealed you and six friends could travel from London to Corsica on Thursday – on board a Hawker 400XP – for just $2768.
That equates to just $395 per person.
However, Clive Jackson, the chief executive of Victor, told The Sunday Times that empty-leg flights could be cancelled if the plans of the person chartering the plane at full price changed.
‘It is an unregulated industry and that worries me.
‘There are no obligations from the person selling you that plane as to what they have to disclose.
‘Beware of the fact that an empty leg can get cancelled an hour before you are due to fly on it and you have no redress whatsoever.’
Mr Twidell added: ‘If people are prepared to book last minute and travel as a group, the cost per person can be less than business class – or even low cost airlines in some cases.
They are usually one-way flights and while a return flight can sometimes be matched up, others enjoy a private jet experience in one direction, and make their own way home. Private jets don’t have to just be for billionaires, VIPs and rock stars.’