Traveling abroad with lots of friends? It might be cheaper to rent a private plane

English2019. okt 9.Ernő Nádasréti

Ten or twenty years ago, flying on a private airplane and avoiding the maddening crowds at the airport was merely an unattainable dream for most people. Today, such opulent and convenient air travel is now within financial reach for most anyone who is planning to travel with a group of friends or an extended family. There are many different options with varied prices, and each choice has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Affordable

People can be forgiven for still thinking that only rich oil sheiks or star entrepreneurs can enjoy travel by private aircraft. It has only been over the last decade or so that increased competition in the private air charter industry has brought the price of exclusive, on-demand air travel down to relatively affordable levels.

Today, not only corporations but groups of ordinary people can benefit from simpler, low-cost models for leasing the services of private aircraft—even in Hungary.

Arrangements for international travel destinations, such as to the southern Balkans or the Middle East, can be difficult to coordinate across multiple commercial air carriers. Travel by train or car can be time-consuming and sacrifice valuable business or vacation time. Ultimately, it might be more economical to rent a chartered aircraft service. When time is so precious that every hour is a priority, such personalized travel arrangements can save a group of traveler’s time and anxiety.

Cessna

Chartered air service choices are quite varied across price and quality options. The smallest available aircraft to charter is often a two- or four-seater Cessna propeller airplane. The rental price, as low as 15,000 forints (or 50 dollars) per hour, is the most reasonable. However, the cramped cabin space isn't comfortable, and its limited range requires multiple stops for refueling along more distant routes. When considering its slow airspeed of less than 250 kilometers per hour, such refueling stops means this more affordable option doesn’t cover a long distance much faster than driving along the major motor routes.

Helicopter

For short trips across a large city, chartering a helicopter can be a smart option for a small group. Whether considering a pricy executive limo or an inexpensive bus ride, the thought of crossing a big city at a constant 150 kmh certainly beats the long and frustrating delays sitting in gridlock traffic. However, the helicopter rental will cost 100 thousand forints (350 dollars) per hour. Also, many big cities like London or Paris have air space restrictions. This means a helicopter isn’t allowed to land just anywhere inside the city.

Turboprop

If six or eight people are traveling together, a turboprop aircraft may be a reasonable option. These twin engine airplanes use turbine engines to crank its propellers powerfully and efficiently. Unlike the slower and smaller piston engine Cessna airplanes, turboprops have greater range and can fly at much higher altitudes to avoid bad weather.  Rental rates for these aircraft start at 300 000 forints (1 000 dollars) per hour. This fee can be split by the group to be as low as 40 000 forints (140 dollars) per hour for each traveler. This may not be competitive when compared to booking flights well in advance on low-cost commercial airlines,

but it might be competitive when making last minute travel plans with a small group.

Jet

The most coveted option is, of course, chartering a small, private jet. This option will cost at least a half million forints (1 750 dollars) an hour and can be as high as 2 million forints (7 000 dollars). However, a jet can fly faster than a turboprop aircraft, and it can fly farther without refueling. When dividing the cost across the group of travelers, this option can be cheaper than buying a last minute commercial airline ticket. If a sizeable group is travelling together, there are even larger jets available with a capacity of as many as 36 passengers. These aircraft typically cost around three million forints (10,500 dollars) per hour to charter. Their performance figures will match the larger jet aircraft deployed by commercial airlines.

Or perhaps you are arranging international travel with a professional football team, complete with their coaching staff and entourage.  A comfortable, full-sized commercial jet can be chartered, such as an Airbus A320 or a Boeing 787. The price of this bespoke luxury travel will be a “sky high” 5 to 9 million forints (17 500 to 31 500 dollars) an hour. Such is the life of the rich and famous!

Approximate Airplane and helicopter charter options appear below, along with their respective prices and travel characteristics for comparison.

Range Suggested aircraft Price    Advantages/Disadvantages
Over 1500 kms mid-size jet 1-9 million forints/hour comfort/expensive
1000-1500 kms smaller jet (4-10 pers.) 0,5 - 1,5 million fts/hour  comfort, faster/expensive
500-1000 kms turboprop (4-8 pers.) 0,3 - 0,5 million fts/hour comfort, cheaper/slower
Up to 400 kms helicopter from 100 000 fts/hour flexible/expensive
400-800 kms  Cessna (2-4 persons)  from 50 000 fts/hour cheaper/no comfort, slow