Owner Approval | A Private Jet Charter Broker’s Worst Enemy

Jun 2016

Any time you receive a private jet charter quote – it will almost always be accompanied by the sentence “Subject to owner approval and availability at time of booking.” Even though we have agreed on price and availability with the company managing the airplane – the actual individual that owns the airplane has final say on whether or not they want to approve the trip. We know there is nothing more frustrating than thinking you had everything locked in on your trip, only to be denied owner approval. This is why Vault Aviation does its best to only present quotes on aircraft we believe will be approved for your particular trip. The following explains the reasons behind why some owners will deny approval for a particular charter trip.

Why Might An Owner Deny Approval?

It might seem unusual to charter clients that an aircraft owner would decline a trip in which they are guaranteed to receive the majority of the generated revenue. Charter revenue is only one of many factors that aircraft owners consider. The following considerations are what typically affect the owner approval decision:

Owner Schedule

First and foremost, owners will ensure that they don’t have any personal travel needs that coincide with the dates of the proposed trip. Owners always have right of first access to their airplane, so if your trip overlaps with one they have planned – you are likely out of luck. Even if the airplane would be open once it has dropped its owner off, owners typically like to keep their airplanes on the ground with them, rendering them unavailable for charter.

In rare circumstances – you may even run into the situation where you have a trip that has been approved – but at the last minute the owner says he needs the airplane. We refer to this as having the aircraft “pulled.” This is a very rare occurrence – mostly because it is very bad for business – so a majority of companies that manage the aircraft will avoid allowing an aircraft to be “pulled” at all costs.

Type of Trip

Total flight time and routing is one of the most important factors in the owner’s decision making process.  Owners generally like bigger, longer charter flights.  This is particularly true for owners of larger aircraft, most notably super midsize and heavy cabin jets.  The longer the flight time, the more charter revenue earned.  This revenue goes a long way towards paying an owner’s fixed costs associated with his or her private jet, including but not limited to maintenance costs, pilot salaries, etc.

The primary reason that an owner signs a deal with a Part 135 charter company in the first place is to make some extra money on their asset when they aren’t using it themselves.  The maintenance fees associated with broken parts or FAA mandated inspections can be extremely expensive, and each time the engines are started or “cycled”, the aircraft is that much closer to its next maintenance event.  Knowing that each flight gets them closer to an unavoidable expense, it’s easy to see why an aircraft owner wants to receive the most amount of charter revenue possible.

Thus, a short 40-minute flight, referred to in charter industry terms as “short legs,” routinely get denied owner approval. For example, Los Angeles to Las Vegas or Houston to Dallas generally wont appeal to an aircraft owner.  Reasons owners do not like “short legs” include:

  • Short legs only generate a very small amount of revenue
  • Short legs still put hours/cycles on the engines
  • Short legs prevent the plane from being booked on longer/more attractive charter trips

As an example – we recently had a charter client that would only fly on newer model super midsize or heavy cabin aircraft who wanted to do a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. As we have explained, owners of newer, bigger airplanes do not like these short trips. We reached out to over 20 operators on the West Coast and was only able to find one operator (an operator that didn’t require owner approval) to do the trip. To show how averse owners are to these short legs – we even offered to pay some operators for 4 hours worth of flight time for the 40 minute flight – and still no owners would go for it – highlighting that money tends to only be a small factor in owners approval decisions.

Personal Preferences

The wildcard in this scenario is that some owners have personal preferences that they will not budge on. For example, we have had a $65,000 charter trip denied because the owner did not want a dog in the cabin. We have had other trips where the owner refuses to allow passengers to drink red wide on board. There are certain owners that will deny all trips to party destinations such as Las Vegas or Cabo because they fear that their plane will get trashed by the passengers along the way.

How Do Owner Approval Issues Affect Charter Brokers?

Frankly – we hate the owner approval process. There is nothing more frustrating than presenting a perfect aircraft option to a client only to get declined owner approval for no apparent reason. Even though we will always have another option for our clients – getting denied approval leaves a particularly bad taste in our mouth. We recently had a very high volume of trips in June and had to deal with being denied owner approval a few times. We are actively trying to give hundreds of thousands of dollars of business to aircraft operators, only to be turned down because of a dog, or the color of wine you are drinking or for literally no reason at all.

How Does Vault Aviation Handle Owner Approval

We do our very best to only quote our aircraft options that either do not require owner approval or which we strongly believe we will get owner approval on. Every aircraft owner is different and thus each have their own personal preferences or guidelines to go by when presented with a specific trip. We have received owner approval on large Gulfstream’s for flights under an hour and been denied a three-hour flight on a midsize jet.  While this is certainly not the norm, it goes to show that there is no uniform code that all aircraft owners subscribe to.

Some owners are regarded as more “particular” with their decision making process, sometimes declining great charter trips for no apparent rhyme or reason.  Others owners are known as much more “charter friendly” and thus more likely to accept the majority of trips presented. At Vault Aviation, our experienced Private Aviation Advisors know which owned aircraft to present to clients and which to avoid.  While owner approval is never guaranteed, we always do our due diligence prior to presenting quotes, and thus only present aircraft options that we believe will be approved for a charter client’s particular itinerary.

We go to bat on behalf of our clients by negotiating with the Part 135 operators to ensure that the approval process goes quickly and in our favor.  Our charter experts strive to be as transparent as possible when presenting pricing and available aircraft on each individual trip, and thus will always advise clients when a particular jet may need approval to be reserved.  Furthermore, Vault Aviation always works to have a suitable backup option ready to go should an owner decline a trip.  Rest assured, we will go above and beyond to always ensure that Vault customers have a multitude of specifically tailored aircraft options available for every single charter request.


To plan your next trip, call (866) 325-4569 or fill out a Quote Request form.

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