If owning an Armani-furnished, eco-friendly jet with high-speed internet connection is your ultimate travel dream, it might not be so far away, according to an industry expert.
Once the preserve of the ultra-rich and multi-million pound corporations, Jahid Fazal-Karim says that private jets are becoming easier for ever-so-slightly-less-ultra-rich clientele to access, thanks to improving technology. (Sorry, the rest of us are still stuck with Ryanair.)
Fazal-Karim, owner and chairman of the board at private jet broker Jetcraft, which has 55 years of selling history to go on, tells The Independent that the models they sell can set a person back anything from £3m to £150m, depending on specifications. That includes how far a person wants to fly, and how many people they need to carry.
But it’s no one-off fee. On top of that, a customer must pay for the salaries of the crew, as well as maintenance. We asked him about what a brave new world of private jetting might look like.
PrivateFly, VistaJet and similar apps have made it easier to hire private jets, says Fazal-Karim. With a tap and a swipe on a smartphone, the so-called “Ubers of private jets” enable people to search for free aircraft in nearby airports, and compare prices and specs before jetting off. That means owners can recoup some of their outlay.
“In the past two decades, private jets have become more accessible than before,” explains Fazal-Karim. He predicts that more owners will want to charter their planes on an hourly basis. “A two-hour trip from London to Nice would cost about £40,000,” he says.
What will never change is that private jets will be still relatively expensive compared to seats on low-cost airlines, he says. “It will be more accessible, but you won’t get away from it being expensive. However, for people like my clients we’re not just selling the jet – we’re selling value of time.”
High tech specs
Jets with pools and hot tubs? In your dreams. Issues with weight mean that luxury touches will continue to be highly regulated.
“One of the issues is that it’s a very regulated industry, so any new technology in the plane would have to go through a stringent approval process,” says Fazal-Karim. Improvements will be more subtle. “There is a lot of added tech today. High-speed internet inflight is currently expensive but available. The more we go on, the more efficient these will be, so communicating inflight is one of the areas where the industry has made progress.” Plane wings, engines and will also become more efficient, quieter and – more importantly – eco-friendly.
In this bracket of air travel, some buyers see private jets as a time-saving means for getting from A to B quickly, whereas others see it as a status symbol.
“You can have a bathroom, bedroom, dining room, home cinema. It really depends on what you want to spend,” says Fazal-Karim. “As with yachts, people want to have their jet look a bit like their home. The seats are also becoming more comfortable and a bit more modern.”
Labels including Versace and Armani are already offering design services, and as private jets become more popular, Fazal-Karim says it’s likely that more and more brands will follow suit.
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