Airports for Private Jets
Will my private jet charter use the same airport as a commercial airline?
Yes, when you charter a private jet you can access the same airports as a commercial airline. However, using a large mainstream airport like Los Angeles International or London Heathrow is often a bad choice for private jets.
When flying privately, you can access many more airports that commercial airliners can’t use. You may require special security clearances, but this will rarely cause an issue. While you do have the option of using airports such as JFK, O’Hare, or SFO, they’ll also mean much higher landing and handling fees.
High-density airports like Dallas-Fort Worth International will cost an additional $500 or so for each flight, whereas a regional airport like Dallas Love Field – which also accepts commercial flights – often carries lower costs. You’ll be able to board your private jet after passing through a private hangar known as a Fixed Base Operation (FBO) separate from the commercial terminal.
What kind of airports would a private jet client usually use?
Usually, private flyers prefer to use the smaller airports. For example, in Los Angeles they might opt for Van Nuys or Burbank instead of LAX. In New York, they might try Teterboro or White Plains instead of the larger JFK and Newark airports. This can make things more convenient as they are often located closer to their destination.
Commercial airports usually have stricter security checks and often deal with much higher volumes of traffic. This can make it more difficult to land, with private flight often put in a ‘holding pattern’ to give airliners priority. Such delays are typical when flying commercially, but they defeat the purpose somewhat when you’re paying for the luxury of a private flight.
Air traffic control will also encourage smaller jets to maintain higher speeds until they are close to the runway, so they can maintain spacing from larger jets behind them. This can be a trying experience even for high-time pilots, and may result in poorer landing technique.
It might sound silly, but at larger commercial airports it’s also easy for the pilot to get lost! Taxiing is usually taken for granted on commercial flights but, if a pilot is unfamiliar with an airport, you may end up heading the wrong way. This can cause embarrassment and takes the gloss off of the VIP experience.
By comparison, smaller airports can offer more of a ‘VIP experience’. When you arrive at the FBO to go through the standard checks, you’ll receive a grand welcome. A golf buggy will usually zip you through the entry gates and drive you right up to your aircraft. You’ll also receive help with your bags, valet parking and a chance to meet your pilot.
Lastly, slots at commercial airports are also more difficult to obtain as commercial flights have priority for landing and takeoff slots. At regional airports this is not usually an issue unless there is a major event in the area with lots of private jets traffic expected.
If this sounds like PBJ far prefers to route our clients through smaller, regional airports – you’re right! These smaller and more intimate facilities simply offer a speedier, more efficient and more luxurious VIP experience for our clients.
Does it ever make sense to fly into or out of a commercial airport when flying privately?
At times, it will certainly make more sense to use a commercial airport. For example, let’s say you’re flying commercially from Europe to JFK. Instead of driving to Farmingdale or Teterboro to board your private jet at a regional airport, it would be much easier if your private jet was already waiting for you at JFK.
Similarly, you may need to reach a commercial airport to depart. For example, you may want to fly from Campo to Miami to catch a commercial flight from there to Europe. You shouldn’t get lost, as all transfers are taken care of by your broker – even within the same airport – usually through a car service.
Are there more commercial airports or regional and private airports?
There are far more regional and private airports than commercial airports; in the U.S. alone there are some 5,000 available airports, but less than 500 of those offer commercial airline service. Private jets can access all commercial airports, but commercial airlines can’t get into those smaller airfields.
Is it more cost effective for a private jet client to make use of a private airport or a commercial airport?
It’s cheaper to use a regional airport, where landing fees cost around 90% less than commercial ones. That’s why almost all private jets are stationed in regional airports.
It’s your broker’s job to arrange the best aircraft for you, regardless of the operator’s preferences. So, they’ll consider these variables and talk you through your options. This gives you the smoothest possible experience.