A lack of regulation in the industry means that ‘anyone and everyone can become a broker’, says Courtenay, who founded Private Jet Charter 25 years ago. The industry is ‘being cheapened and downgraded’, he says, by so-called bedroom brokers who use online booking systems to charter jets and who are willing to work for lower commissions, thus driving prices down. But problems arise when things go wrong as the bedroom brokers have no financial security in place.
Private Jet Charter, on the other hand, offers an ‘all inclusive’ package, which supplies a free replacement aircraft when necessary. ‘From choosing your flight to the moment the stairs arrive beside the plane, only the most experienced should be trusted,’ he says. ‘It’s about having something fabulous.’ According to Courtenay, the private aviation market is doing a 360° transformation and charter is the favoured option. ‘Owning a private jet is expensive, not for the faint-hearted’, he says, warning that potential buyers need to fly at least 400 hours a year to warrant owning a plane. Fractional ownership emerged as a cheaper alternative to full ownership.
Although this option flourished in boom times, buyers are realising that it isn’t as cheap as it seems, warns Courtenay. ‘You can end up paying and never see the same aircraft or crew name it, it affects this business again,’ he says. ‘You never have the aircraft, just a piece of paper worth $6 million.’ The benefit of charter is the assurance in knowing that the ‘price you are quoted is the price you pay’.