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Analysis: Comparing Private Jet Operators and Commercial Airlines KPIs

Since COVID-19 started, people have been looking for 'safer' alternatives to travel. We have seen travelers looking for options to enjoy seeing the world in a 'safer manner.' By safer, I mean people prefer to travel in private vehicles to reduce contact with others and reduce the contagion risk.

But this is not only the case for land travel. This has also been the case for air travel. With this article, I want to take a very specific view on travelling with private jets. More precisely, with the following text, I compare private jet operations to commerical key performance indicators (KPI).

According to an article from Elite Traveler, indicates that private jet operators after the first fall on the beginning of COVID-19, in March and April 2020, where air travel was highly impacted, by the month of July 2020, private business flights have bounced back to almost 85% to 90% in comparison to 2019.  

Image obtained from: “Private Jet Industry Trends Upwards Due to Covid-19 Pandemic.” Elite Traveler, Swindells, Katherine,) November 19,2020,

Private Jet Operators Probably Need to Increase Their Offer in the Coming Years

If the tendency of private flying will continue to increase during the upcoming years, private jet operators will probably require to increase their offer to satisfy the market increasing demand. For this reason, the tracking of KPIs becomes even more relevant for this type of service provider.  

Therefore, we wanted to evaluate what possible key performance indicators (KPIs) can be relevant for the private jet operators in terms of operation that may differ from a commercial airline’s regular operation. We have identified some main differences and similarities between the two operating models doing some research and discussing with some market experts.

Differences in KPIs Between Commercial and Private Aviation 

Aircraft Availability

One of the major differences between a commercial airline and a private jet operator relies on third-party providers for aircraft availability. While the commercial airline has a defined and fixed fleet, the aircraft are operated by third-party suppliers in most cases. Aspects such as the number of passengers, destination, and budget are considered when defining what type of aircraft will be assigned for the flight.  Therefore, it is necessary to track aircraft availability from each sub-provider to guarantee access to an aircraft that meets the customer requirements. 

This aspect is also very relevant as private jet passengers plan in the short run and request the service on short notice. Therefore, it is important to make sure the fleet is available to meet customer requirements. 

In the cases where the private jet operator has an owned fleet, can also take into account the following measures: In case the required fleet is in operation and unavailable, third parties come again into play. Therefore, it is important to track flights operated by their own fleet and flights operated by third parties in real-time and historical tracking. This tracking helps the operators identify any specific fleet that must be constantly requested to third parties for better cost planning.  

A Very Specific Private Jet KPI: Permissions to Operate on Departure and Arrival Airports

Unlike commercial airlines, private jet operators can be requested to (ad-hoc) fly to airports and regions where they have not operated before. Therefore, they have to guarantee to obtain the permits to operate in the different required airports. In this case, the KPI to be tracked can be a daily KPI indicating the % of authorized airports to operate during the day. The KPI can be based on the flights scheduled for the specific day and which of the airports are still missing the authorization to guarantee permissions are submitted on time. 

Departure and Arrival Slots Based on Travelers’ Requested Flying Times

As some private jet passengers are on short notice and require particular flying times, it is necessary to guarantee slots are available for the requested times. In this case, one of the advantages private jet operators have is flexibility. In case one airport doesn’t have the requested slots available to the destination, there’s can be the option of searching for a smaller airport at the same destination that can offer the requested slots. This, of course, also depends on the customer’s needs. 

A KPI for Private Jet ad-hoc Operations: Permissions to Fly in Required Airspaces in the Route

It is important to know permissions are necessary for the departure and arrival airport and the different airspaces to be covered during the flight route. The tracking of authorizations will allow the operator to find alternative solutions in case the authorization is not provided with the required time: 

  • Define alternative flight routes that count with authorization
  • Adjust fueling requests if more fuel is required due to new quantity requirements.
  • Reassigned fleet if the new route requires a higher distance not covered by the current aircraft assigned. 

Operating Hours of Requested Airports

In some cases, the customers’ requested flying times imply operating outside regular airport times. Some airports can extend the operating times by setting additional fees. Therefore, it is essential to track the number of operating hours outside the regular airport times. 

Customized Onboard Service and Specific Catering Requirements

In this case, there needs to be coordination with the catering provider to deliver on time the passengers’ customized requests. 

Parking Availability and Requested Fees if Overnight

Some private jet travelers have limited time constraints. They require the aircraft availability during their entire journey to either continue to the next destination or return to their point of origin, like the business customers. For short trips like this, sometimes the aircraft has to remain overnight at the destination airport, and hangar and/ or parking position fees can apply. It is also fundamental for scheduling and costs planning to identify the aircraft that remain at the destination for more than 24 hours. 

Crew Disposition

As stated before, many private jet flyers demand the service on short notice. Therefore, it is necessary to guarantee the crew’s availability for these cases. It is necessary to the available amount of Cockpit and Cabin Crew members for each specific day. 

No use of Boarding Passes

For flying in a commercial airline, passengers need to purchase a ticket in advance that adjusts to the desired flying schedules or at least is close to desired flying times, getting a ticket number assigned to each passenger. On the other hand, for private jet operators’ tickets are not used. Instead, a tail number is assigned. 

Similar KPIS Between Commercial and Private Jet Operator 

Weather Conditions

Regardless of private jet operations or commercial flights, it is essential to analysis the weather conditions at departure and arrival airport before any flight to guarantee passengers and crew safety during the journey. 

Passengers’ Documentation

At the moment of leaving a city or a country, commercial and private airlines need to guarantee that all passenger documents are in order. In case the destination airport requires visas, the visas need to be checked previous to departure. Private jet airlines can also include the KPI denied passenger boarding to identify passengers’ numbers without complete documentation. This can help improve communications with the passengers to guarantee all requirements and documents to avoid canceling the passenger’s trip.

Private Jet or Commercial Airlines — They all Track On-Time Performance (OTP KPI)

Punctuality is a critical measure for private jet operators. Talking with one of the experts working in a private jet operator company in Latin America indicated for private jet operators, punctuality is one of the main passenger experience factors. 

The private jet operators’ market is an exciting market with high growth potential, especially in COVID-19 times. Because of this, we are excited to continue identifying other performance measures or differences between the two different business models.

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Benjamin Walther

CEO, Frankfurt

Benjamin is Information Design's CEO and a proven content-maniac. Besides running a successful business and developing pioneering ideas, he's dedicated to writing blog posts and creating content.

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