Boeing Business Jets, or BBJs, and other VIP Airliners are a rare breed, not your typical private jet rental. Charter broker Adam Hasiak, CEO of Access Jet Group, specializes in these flying palaces. A former U.S. Senate legislative staffer and later policy team assistant to the Governor of Indiana, he founded Boca Raton-based Access in 2011. He quickly found all private jets are not created equal and the rest is history, as they say. Recently, we spoke to Hasiak, an Argus-registered broker, who is also part of our Best Private Jet Charter Brokers Guide. He shared his years of insights in what you need to know if you want to charter a VIP Airliner.
What’s a VIP Airliner and how do they differ from ‘regular’ private jets?
A VIP Airliner is a converted commercial airliner, with executive-style seating that has boardroom amenities and private bedroom and shower capabilities. It differs from a private jet in the form of interior cabin size and the luxury amenities mentioned.
Do all VIP Airliners have bedrooms and showers?
On the charter market Airbus 318 Elite and Airbus 319 models tend to have an aft private cabin with divans that convert to a bed, versus BBJ models having a designated area with a true full bed that is not convertible.
Many BBJs available for charter offer in-flight shower capabilities, although the bulk of the BBJs available in the Middle East region doesn’t.
How did you get involved in VIP Airliner charters?
We had been focusing on a more broad charter customer and realized over time that these type of clients come and go, versus operating at the highest levels of the wealth spectrum, where wealth is exponential and relationships are supreme.
My goal was to attract the wealthiest individuals in the world that did not own aircraft, in doing so I specifically market my services to superyacht owners, hence why the VIP airliner fits in perfectly with this type of clientele.
Are most VIP Airliners on the charter market purpose-built or are they converted commercial aircraft like Google’s Boeing 767 or Donald Trump’s 757?
Most VIP Airliners that are used for charter flights are conversions by private individuals. The conversion process is extensive and can run into the tens of millions of dollars. Royal Families are usually the customers for purpose-built VIP aircraft.
How many VIP Airliners are available for charter and what are the options?
There are approximately 35 to 40 VIP Airliners around the globe for Part 135 charter. They range from Embraer’s Lineage 1000, the Airbus 318 Elite, Airbus 319, Boeing BBJ, and Airbus A320neo to a Boeing 787.
How many passengers do they carry?
The smallest is a nine-seat BBJ based in Montpellier France. It’s extremely rare to have seating capacity. this small. All of the executive style VIP Airliners will typically have 15 to 19 passenger seats. In the MENA region aircraft with executive-style seating for your entourage go up to 46 passengers.
What are the largest VIP Airliners available for charter out there?
There’s a Boeing 787-8 based in Hong Kong. The Airbus 320neo is based at Farnborough (outside London).
What about Crystal Luxury Air’s Boeing 777?
We don’t consider it a VIP Airliner. It’s an 88 seat aircraft with only a forward lounge, no executive quarters. There’s no master bath or shower, no private areas in the cabin. It’s a large group aircraft modified with some bells and whistles in the forward lounge area.
Why would somebody rent a VIP airliner instead of a private jet like a Gulfstream G650 or Global Express?
It all comes down to space. If you are traveling 10 hours plus with a group of people that require sleep and comfort an ultra-long-range aircraft like a Global or G650 really does not cut it. There are usually only five to seven convertible beds. VIP airliners simply provide a more enjoyable, relaxed atmosphere when the variables above are in play.
When it comes to chartering VIP Airliners, are there typical trips?
Usually, owners (of the VIP Airliners) want a sizable trip before they release approval on their aircraft. The main reason they have these type of aircraft available for charter is to bring in large revenue flights. You will not see short flight legs approved. These types of aircraft are built and made for long hauls, cross-country trips, and ocean crossings.
Leisure travel and family vacations to Caribbean island trips and deep South Pacific Island Trips are typical. We see a lot of activity around yacht season schedules. The same customer who charters a VIP Airliner for these trips will opt for more typical long-range business jets on business trips when the family is not involved.
What’s the cost of chartering VIP airliners?
From a price standpoint, you can’t get on board for less than $10,000 per hour and upwards of $20,000 per hour plus depending on the aircraft, holiday periods, the region, and so forth.
In addition to chartering price, are there additional expenses?
We offer fully inclusive catering regardless of the extravagance and obviously within reason. Special wines, special champagnes usually are not comped by the operator but as a broker, we take care of that on our end to avoid any third party billing post-flight.
Two flight attendants are standard. European operators tend to have three. De-icing is not included in the charter price as that is a variable expense and hard to pinpoint in advance. The largest additional expense that we see is WiFi.
For a consumer, are there any differences they should be aware of when chartering a VIP Airliner compared to regular Part 135 type flights?
There usually is no backup for these types of aircraft since they are limited in number and especially by geographic locations. If for any unforeseen reason there is a trip interruption clients should be prepared accordingly. However, at this level of aircraft mechanicals are highly minimal compared to light, mid, super mid, heavy aircraft. Airliners are built for massive engine cycles. In eight years of VIP airliner bookings, we have never had a mechanical issue.
How far in advance should you book a VIP Airliner?
As soon as possible once your ground or water arrangements have been made. We advise our clients to book at least 90 days in advance of peak holiday periods. Cancelations are flexible, especially with the new DOT broker rules that we adhere to as an Argus registered broker.
That said, our North American bookings often come within 30 days of flight with non-peak schedules. The VIP market in North America is very small so often times the availability comes down to owner schedules and not charter demand.
What tips or advice can you give to somebody who is considering a VIP Airliner for the first time?
Well, most people do not know these types of aircraft even exist. Our largest users never did until we brought these aircraft into the conversation.