Patrick Margetson-Rushmore is chief executive of Luxaviation UK, one of Europe’s leading private jet charter operators. Here he tells us how a quick call to one of his team could see you hiring a luxurious aircraft for your next trip from Dubai to London — if you have Dh320,000 to spare.
How do you explain what you do to people?
Luxaviation UK is a business jet operator and it does several different things. When someone owns an aircraft and they don’t want to look after the running of it, we look after that. Secondly, when owners aren’t using their aircraft we take bookings for charter, which helps the owner defray some of the costs of ownership. Thirdly, we also have a number of FBOs — buildings on airports around the world that take care of fuel, parking and so on — and MROs, which are organisations that provide maintenance.
How big is the company?
Luxaviation Group has around 1,500 people, 800 or so of them being pilots, and we look after 250 aircraft. Outside of America, that makes us the largest business jet operator in the world.
What is a typical day for you?
It varies. Last week I was speaking at a conference in Madrid; this week I saw a potential new owner who is looking at buying an aircraft for his family and I’ve been to a seminar on artificial intelligence to see how that can potentially help in the aircraft industry.
Did you fly to Madrid on a private jet?
No — don’t confuse the tradesman with the end user! I often fly on EasyJet, which gives me time to catch up on emails and everything I have to do while at the airport or on the aircraft.
What’s the going rate for a trip on a private jet from the UAE to London?
That trip requires a flight time of around seven hours, so that means there isn’t really a budget option because the sort of aircraft you need are quite expensive. A Dassault Falcon 2000 from Dubai to London Luton would be around £68,000 (about Dh318,000); if you have 10 passengers on board that comes to around £6,800 each.
How much is it to hire a smaller jet?
There are four-seater jets that cost around £1,300 per flying hour to charter, plus all the fees on top.
What is the most luxurious of all the private jets?
Airbus and Boeing Business Jets are quite similar in size to an Airbus A320, which you might fly on a budget airline, but instead of having 200 passengers on board you have 13 to 18, a bed, a dining table, a lounge area and the interior is fitted out to the requirements of the owner. Luxaviation Group’s most luxurious aircraft is an Airbus A320 that accommodates 26 passengers and has 10 single beds as well as two doubles.
Would it ever make sense for Luxaviation to own its own fleet?
The answer right now is no, although when I first started in this business in 1996 part of our model was owning aircraft, and at one point we did own about nine — but that model only really worked for us because we bought smaller, second-hand jets and the market value of them was static and, right up to 2008, was generally increasing.
Since 2008 it became very difficult to make any real money out of owning an aircraft because of the depreciation costs, which runs at around 10 per cent. If you buy a $28m aircraft, in the first year you’ve got around $2.8m of depreciation you’ve got to cover.
How long does an engine last?
They have cycles lasting anywhere between 3,500-5,000 hours before you have to overhaul them – at a cost of around $800,000-$1.6m per engine. When you fly scheduled, the engines on those aircraft can be well in excess of 15,000 hours – although there are various inspections to make sure there are no issues with them.
What are some of your biggest challenges?
A potential problem at the moment is pilot shortages as there has been a lack of pilot training in the market over the past few years. Now the airlines are recruiting and are taking a fair share of the pilots that fly for us.
Are carbon emissions an issue?
That’s an interesting one: business jet aviation accounts for 0.0168 per cent of carbon emissions — although journalists like to use us as a sacrificial lamb.
What are the advantages of flying privately?
It’s mainly the time you can save. It’s not the flying time, it’s the time at both airports, plus the time you save by going to a non-major airport that is closer to where you live. There are over 1,200 airports in Europe alone that are regularly used as destinations.
Why is it that some owners — as well as yourself — sometimes fly commercial?
If someone is doing a regular hop on their own — let’s say London City airport to Paris — and there’s a charter on their aircraft that will earn them £30,000, why wouldn’t they fly commercial? People are rich, but they don’t squander money unnecessarily.