Private aviation stands out for its flexibility, especially when compared to commercial air travel. But there are two types of services provided within the same market.
There are those who operate their fleet and the other group that provides a larger pool of aircraft, almost unlimited, but does not directly operate the airplane or helicopter. Who has the edge? Well, it depends… Although if flexibility is what you’re looking for, then brokers lead the runway.
Operators vs Brokers
Operators have their fleet, comprised of a fixed number of aircraft and segments, while charter brokers, although on occasion can operate a small fleet while also being able to manage third-party aircraft, usually specialize in sourcing from literally thousands of jets to adapt to the passenger’s needs.
The key for brokers is having an established relationship with diverse operators around the globe, with the goal to provide a solution for each customer.
In fact, operators also rely on brokers when their fleet is at full capacity or have maintenance issues – asking them to find a suitable aircraft for their clients.
“Brokers allow passengers to only worry about what happens at their destination. A team of professionals will arrange all the details for a seamless flight.”
“A broker will find the proper jet to accommodate passenger needs based on the number of travelers, the specific route, and the airport, as some runways have limitations for larger private jets”, states Kyle Patel, CEO of global private charter provider BitLux.
He adds, “It’s important to also note that at BitLux, the priority for us is the client and their itinerary – which makes us a fiduciary actor on the client’s behalf. We bear no responsibility to the aircraft itself – which gives us the only position in the industry of a 100% client-focused process.”
While the operator will manage the airborne portion of the flight, it is most likely that the private jet broker will arrange all the details and amenities before, during, and after the flight.
This may involve sourcing the best ground transportation service to and from a hotel to providing a specific on-flight menu – therefore providing utmost flexibility while finding options that adapt to each client.
Furthermore, operators cannot secure availability because their fleet might be in use or grounded for scheduled maintenance.
It’s in those urgent moments when brokers provide tangible added value for all involved parties by sourcing an available and certified aircraft from one of its established relationships with operators.
The key differences
As a roundup, the main differences between operators and brokers are:
- Operators always have their fleet while brokers usually don’t, with some exceptions.
- Brokers can source from thousands of aircraft while operators are reduced to their own fixed fleet.
- Brokers allow clients more flexibility while providing different options regarding prices for the same route and aircraft.
- From a cost perspective, operators are effective only when offering a charter next to its home base because the price of getting a chartered aircraft to a client is factored in.
- Brokers can source an aircraft from the closest operator to the passenger’s departing location while avoiding extra costs.
Flexibility and expertise
Brokers, especially the most experienced ones, are trained in aircraft and international logistics – often with networks that expand beyond the normal status quo of most operators.
While operations departments have their regular service areas, brokers like BitLux have a greater network with resources that not every operator has.
This means the company can arrange and get permits for international countries faster or more efficiently, special events, and flight designations, among others.
Patel says that it’s a lot like working with a general contractor on a construction project instead of the individual sub-contractors.
“While most operations departments believe their abilities meet the requirements, a good broker can sort out an operations team prior to scheduling an aircraft to ensure the right people are behind the scenes – not just a pretty plane.”
If you’re new to the business, it’s great to have the professional guidance of a team with knowledge of the industry. What jet can go the distance, with how many passengers on board, and at what price, are too many questions when your real worry is getting there on time and closing a business deal.
“Leave the logistics to the experts who have the knowledge and daily pulse of the worldwide movements within the industry.”
“Especially if traveling to diverse regions in a country and you’re not familiar with a certain local operator, leaving your next flight in the hands of a broker is the right business decision”, shares Patel.
Reliability in this industry should always be a concern, especially for last-minute requests. Wasn’t that one of the main traits of private aviation?
Additionally, from an operator’s lens, having a fixed fleet might be an issue especially for routes with unique operational conditions – what happens if a client requests to operate on a small grass runway where only a turboprop can land?
If the operator’s turboprop is booked for another flight or has no turboprop at all, brokers can provide a helping hand.
Moreover, is buying a jet a good option? Well, that depends on how many hours a potential buyer is planning to fly. It is widely accepted that 300 hours a year is the mark to start thinking about purchasing a private jet, due to high costs like crew salaries, maintenance, insurance, and depreciation.
The 300-hour mark is usually reached by large corporations that use private aviation to move their executives for business purposes – for everything else there’s on-demand charter.
Finally, are all brokers the same? Not quite. A broker can be a one-person shop with a notebook and a phone or an established international company with global market knowledge and active engagement with the top operators in the world, like BitLux.
Importantly enough, a serious broker only works with certified operators and aircraft while also having certifications and memberships with the main trade associations.
BitLux delivers various services across the air charter industry, but Executive Travel is closest to heart. Whether you are flying for business or leisure, BitLux provides a top-tier private jet service that actively exceeds expectations.