Victor Insights: Q1 average hourly charter rates

For the first time in over 3 years, the hourly average rates for Victor private jet charters have dropped by a noteworthy 14% for Q1 2024 compared with the same period last year. Market prices have generally been on the rise over the last five years, however, the latest insights for this year so far will come as a welcome surprise for on-demand private jet charterers.

Private jet prices fluctuated quite drastically during the pandemic, and although the average cost did initially drop between 2020-21, the two years that followed since then have seen a relatively steep rise. While overall prices still remain 25% higher compared to pre-pandemic levels, this update serves as a useful and transparent showcase of the current state of the market against the backdrop of the last five years.

It is worth noting that data is relevant only to the first quarter of each year and comprises only Victor’s data. Other factors such as seasonality, aircraft availability, and positioning requirements have a strong influence on individual jet charter prices.

Below we provide transparent insight on average hourly rates for different private jet categories;

Light Jets & Super Light Jets

Light and Super Light Jets are the perfect aircraft for short-haul trips (up to 3 hours) for small groups, making them very popular with our European based clients. Most of the aircraft in this category are chartered for weekend getaways and trips to popular destinations in the Mediterranean such as Mallorca, Mykonos, and Sicily.

Last year the prices for these two categories were at an all time high, with the average hourly price for a Light Jet being even greater than the cost of what a Super Light aircraft would have been in 2019. This year there has been a 10% average price decrease for light jets and 7% decrease for Super Light Jets in Q1 2024 compared with the year before.

The average lead booking time in Q1 2024 has increased by 10% compared to the same period for last year. Because our clients are now booking their private jets further in advance, they are far more likely to secure more preferable pricing. Moreover, the decreasing amount of last-minute private jet charters will also positively impact the average charter prices.

Additionally, as mentioned in our Q1 market update, this can also be partly attributed to clients opting for newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft models. In Q1 we saw that the Citation CJ2+, a Light Jet model which was first launched in 2005, took a 7% decrease in bookings. Meanwhile, the newer Pilatus PC-24, a Super Light model which was first delivered in 2017, has seen a huge 70% increase in bookings.

With these newer Super Light jet models hitting the charter market, clients are more willing to upgrade to slightly bigger but more efficient aircraft with fewer operational costs. The more availability we see for top of the range private jets, the more we can expect overall prices for aircraft in that category to start going down.

Midsize Jets

Midsize aircraft typically accommodate up to 10 passengers and have a range between 4-5 hours. This aircraft category emerged to accommodate inter-continental flights within the US, therefore despite its bigger size and improved range, it’s not as widely used within Europe. As seen in the graph, the Midsize Jet category is something of an anomaly for us.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of our analysis is the fact that midsize aircraft have a lower average hourly price rate compared to the smaller Super Light Jet category. However, although it may seem like you can get a bigger aircraft for less money, there are some important caveats to note.

Jamie Heffer, Senior Sales Executive, explains, “The running costs and capabilities of an aircraft such as the Hawker 900XP versus something smaller such as a Pilatus PC 24 is fairly minimal. If you’re travelling within Europe, and unless you are flying further afield to somewhere like Turkey or the Canary Islands, there isn’t too much that a Midsize Jet can offer over a Super Light Jet. There is also a greater number of newer and modern Super Light Jets available for charter in Europe which makes them far more popular and oftentimes better value for money.”

Heavy Jets and Ultra-long range Jets

These jets typically accommodate 10+ passengers and are mostly used for long-haul flights and trans-atlantics. They are often considered the pinnacle of luxury air travel and with newer models such as the luxurious Global 7500 becoming more available in the on-demand charter market, clients are willing to pay extra for finer luxury and better performance.

Prices for the Ultra-long range category dropped by roughly 21% during the first year of the pandemic, almost to the point where it was a similar price to the class below it. However, this was almost entirely due to the shock the pandemic had on the commercial airline industry. During the first week of January 2021, the number of scheduled flights worldwide was down by 43.5 percent compared to the year prior. With so many trans-atlantic commercial routes cut off, the demand for aircraft that could fly for 8+ hours suddenly skyrocketed.

Since then, prices have increased to the point of surpassing pre-pandemic levels. It is only this year that prices have started to decline. Interestingly, the gap between the two different classes has shrunk quite significantly since 2019. Before the pandemic it would have been a 53% price jump to upgrade from a Heavy Jet to an Ultra-long range aircraft, however, as of Q1 2024 the difference is a mere 17%.

For more information about specific prices and charter rates please email Sales@flyvictor.com