““When I made the film The Invention of Lying, they gave me a private jet for getting back and forth between New York and London. I thought, ‘I will never use it’ but I ended up using it every weekend. You turn up, right, and the airport is completely empty. I mean, there’s just someone at the desk and then the pilot, who says, ‘Are you ready to go?’ and you say, ‘Don’t you want to see my passport?’ and he goes, ‘Oh yeah, I suppose I’d better.’” ”
When Are You Ready for Your Own Jet?
When is it time to buy your own jet? Part of the answer involves tax numbers, depreciation data, return on investment projections and the like; but if those are the sorts of factors you’re pondering right now, you should put down this article and pick up some of the many BJT features that address such concerns in detail.
What I want to discuss here are the more emotional aspects of the purchase decision. We do some things because they offer experiences we feel should be part of our lives—things we will reflect on someday as being among the most soul-satisfying decisions we’ve ever made. As much as we want to believe we’re governed by hard facts and logical calculations, we also have hearts. And there are times when the logical brain has to twist itself in knots to accommodate what the heart wants it to “think.” Sounds like heresy, but how many of the best experiences in your life came after you went with your gut feeling rather than your gray matter?
So when is it time to buy a jet? As with so many financial decisions, it’s all about weighing risk against benefits. Some of the emotional benefits don’t show up on a balance sheet, though. Financial risk is measured a lot more easily than some of those less tangible benefits. But even that has its emotional component.
Many potential buyers look at current aircraft prices—new and used—and can’t help comparing them with those from happier economic times. They become paralyzed by the hit they would have suffered if they had bought high and now were forced to sell low. The perception of risk is heightened. In that sense, aircraft ownership is like the stock market. The emotional tendency is to buy when demand is high and bail out when prices erode. That’s just the opposite of the best practice.
When it comes to the economics of aircraft values, chances are good that a recovering economy will increase pent-up demand. That’s partially fueled by people (like you?) who want a jet, but have been holding off. So the economics of emotional buying weigh in on the side of taking the plunge.
It’s a bit tougher to evaluate that sense of just wanting something for its own sake. Sure, all the numbers and due diligence are important. You can’t make a wise decision without them. But how do you measure the satisfaction you’ll experience the first time you stride across the tarmac to your own airplane? Is there a dollar value on the facial expression of a business prospect when you casually mention you’ll be a lot more available now that you have your own wings? Better yet, imagine when you tell your grandchildren that Grandma and Grandpa will be flying out for a visit in their own airplane—and they can go for a ride.
Of course, these aren’t the only reasons why you should buy an airplane for yourself or your business. They’re not even in the Top 10. But they do exist. They involve feeling good, and that’s OK.
Sound financial logic may suggest that you should stick with your favorite charter, fractional or jet-card provider. But there’s another side to the story. And it could be one part of your life’s narrative that you’ll never forget.
What our readers had to say
BUYING YOUR OWN JET
“When Are You Ready for Your Own Jet?” [June/July 2013] is a great article that addresses exactly how I feel. On paper, I don’t fly enough for it to make sense for me to do more than charter. But I just want it.
Tom Dorsey (posted on bjtonline.com)