Surprise: Ultra-Rich Men Fly Private — Here’s Where They Go

May 26, 2018

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Everyone knows who flies in private jets: the rich, the famous or both. But what about breaking down the demographics a bit more? Are there any surprises when it comes to who actually flies private?

VistaJet and WealthX released its 2018 Jet Traveler report , and it has some interesting insights into the world of private jet owners.


Surprise, surprise: Private jets are essentially only owned by ultra-high net worth individuals, or UHNWIs, meaning those with a net worth of more than $30 million.

VistaJet broke down the demographics of those who use private jets into two categories. Owners are those who own either an entire jet or part thereof. And members are “those known to be members of a private flying program.”

Image by 2018 Jet Traveler report.

The chart shows us that essentially every private jet member is male and over the age of 60. A large majority are self-made millionaires with less than 10% being able to fly private based off inheritance alone. 35% of private jet owners are worth more than a casual $500 million.

The most popular industry (19%) for private jet owners to hail from is the finance, banking and investment sphere. The next most likely areas are real estate with 7% and, surprisingly, non-profit and social organizations with 6%. Owners’ top hobbies are a mixture of philanthropy, sports and politics (think Donald’s Trump’s 757).

Image by 2018 Jet Traveler report.

Those on the higher end of UHNWIs are more likely to own their own jet and those on the lower end are primarily members, using private jet charting companies like NetJets and VistaJet. PrivateFly and VistaJet saw the average age of those who charter jets fall from 41 to 39 and 40 to 38, respectively — suggesting that costs of chartering flights have fallen and become more accessible due to technology.

In the world’s 10 largest markets there are about 17,000 private jets, with the US accounting for about 75% of those aircraft, according to Knight Frank’s Wealth Report. Europe and South America came in at a distance second and third. Africa placed dead last with just 481 registered private jets.

Image by 2018 Jet Traveler report.

The two most important reasons for the wealthy to fly private are maximizing time, because time is money, and control in the event of meeting overruns or other business needs.

Popular Destinations

The Knight Frank report profiled some of the most popular private jet routes with flights between New York Teterboro (TEB) and Washington Dulles (IAD) topping the list and Los Angeles Van Nuys (VNY) to Las Vegas (LAS) coming in second. Knight Frank’s 2017 report said that flights between Miami Palm Beach (PBI) and Teterboro and between Geneva (GEN) and Paris Le Bourget (LBG) were also popular.

Image by Knight Frank Wealth Report.

PrivateFly, a private jet chartering company based in Europe reported its most popular destinations for Q1 2018 as London, Paris and Los Angeles.

Rolland Vincent, Director of JETNET iQ, says in the Wealth Report that sales of new private jets remain relatively flat. But Richard Koe of WINGX Advance says that private jet activity is up by 10%. There was a 4.8% jump in flight departures in the US and 4.7% increase in Europe, according to the Knight Frank Wealth Report.


Featured image by Robert Alexander/Getty Images.

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