How to score yourself a commercial jetliner

Master bedroom of a Boeing VIP 747-8.
Greenpoint Technologies

Master bedroom of a Boeing VIP 747-8.

Sure, having a private jet to whisk you away whenever you need a bit of winter sun is pretty impressive. But what if you'd like 200 of your closest friends to come along with you?

While just a handful of people have ever bought their own commercial jetliner such as a 747 or A320, it can certainly be done The Telegraph reported. Provided your savings account balance is in the seven-figure-plus vicinity. 

Boeing, which along with Airbus is the big daddy of the aircraft business, lists a variety of options on the commercial section of its website for would-be private buyers. 

Those happy with a basic model could opt for the 737-700, priced from US$82.4 million (NZ$117.8 million). Or for just US$16 million (NZ$22.9 million) more, you could upgrade to the 737-800 - Ryanair's aircraft of choice. 

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Lounge of a Boeing VIP 747-8.
Greenpoint Technologies

Lounge of a Boeing VIP 747-8.

If you need something more spacious, the 787 Dreamliner could be a good option, starting at US$229.5 million (NZ$328.1 million). Those prepared to splash the cash for a top-of-the-range model can expect to pay US$408.8 million (NZ$584.5 million). 

These figures aren't set in stone though. Boeing notes that they're averages and a range of options and configurations are available for each model with varying "performance, capability, interiors, avionics, fuel capacity, etc". 

If you have a mate in the market for a jetliner too, you could well wrangle a discount. 

Conference room of a Boeing VIP 747-8.
Greenpoint Technologies

Conference room of a Boeing VIP 747-8.

How do I choose?

Will you be using the jet to treat the friends and family to some island time or do you need it to impress colleagues or clients? Boeing's handy online aircraft comparison tool will help you resolve such dilemmas as whether you need two aisles or one, 242 seats or 467, 38,1850 gallons of fuel capacity or 53,985. 

You'll also need to consider range. There's little point shelling out tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars only to find out you've accidentally purchased a short-range model and can't get further than Australia. 

Bar of a VIP 777-200LR
Greenpoint Technologies

Bar of a VIP 777-200LR

How do I fund it?

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Remember that minimum seven figure bank balance? 

But there are financing options. Boeing says most buy aircraft via "operating lease" and "direct purchase", which essentially means either renting it or using a mortgage-type loan to gradually take ownership of it. 

Realistically though, if you don't own an airline, you're probably not going to buy a brand new jetliner (even many airlines lease their planes). 

It's important to remember that the up-front cost of the plane is just for starters. You'll need to have plenty of surplus cash to keep the thing going too. Each flight can cost up to NZ$37,000 in fuel, take-off and landing fees and you'll also need to factor in safety checks and maintenance. 

BBJ VIP Lounge
Greenpoint Technologies

BBJ VIP Lounge

What about second-hand planes?

There's a big second-hand market for aircraft, fuelled by airlines wanting to update their fleets. More airlines are selling 747s than buying them right now for example. 

Given that plenty of ex-airline planes are in excellent shape and airlines depreciate rapidly, you could pick up a relative bargain. 

On aviation marketplace GlobalAir.com, you can nab a 1991 Boeing 737 with just 53,000 flying hours on the clock for US$6 million (NZ$8.6 million). 

"This aircraft... is in impeccable condition. Completely refurbished in 2016. 44 luxury seats and interior... Going at a very good price," seller, Delta World Charter, says. 

There are no 747s on offer at the moment, but an answer on Q&A website Quora says you could expect to pay between US$10 million (NZ$14.3 million) and US$100million (NZ$142.9 million). 

With many airlines offloading 747s, you could find yourself a second-hard bargain.
Stefan Wermuth

With many airlines offloading 747s, you could find yourself a second-hard bargain.

So who actually owns their own commercial aircraft?

Plenty of people own smaller private jets, but only an elite few have customised commercial jetliners. 

Donald Trump is one of the best known - he courted controversy in the early days of his presidency by saying he'd rather fly in his customised 757 than on Air Force One. 

Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club in the UK, has a Boeing 767 dubbed the "Bandit", while Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau and the Sultan of Brunei also have converted flying palaces. 

As the rich get richer, owning a commercial jet is an increasingly viable proposition for some. Indeed the new Boeing Business Jets site is designed to bring "the best of commercial aviation into the realm of private air travel".

"Our customers put a high premium on quality and mobility," the company says. "Most often, they want access to the same amentities in the air as they have on the ground including an office, bedroom, shower, dining facilities, entertainment areas and more."

The site offers Boeing Business Jets, MAX Aircraft, 787s, 777s and 747s. 

For the non-super rich though, there are always chartered jets.   

 - Stuff

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