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27 July 2015

Everyone loves a bargain, especially when it comes to flying on a private jet. But if you think you’ve got a price that’s too good to be true, it probably is. The problem is that these so-called bargains are often in fact grey market charters, unregulated, compromising on safety and illegal.

Many private jet owners offer their aircraft out for charter when they aren’t using them, and usually they will have a management charter company who take care of the logistics and ensure all the necessary precautions are taken and licences and certifications obtained. This is because government-mandated safety regulations for charter aircraft are far more stringent than those for private aircraft. Not just in regards to maintenance but also factors such as how many hours the crew can fly in a day and even runway length each aircraft type can land on.

However, with the economic downturn a few years ago came the rise in grey market charters. Business jet owners were informally renting out their jets to friends, family and strangers, for free, favours or much lower fees, simply to make ends meet. However, whether they knew it or not, the problem with this is that grey market charters are illegal, and they not only invalidate insurance policies, but also hit offenders with stiff fines and can result in finance package agreements being breached and even the aircraft being repossessed. If something does go wrong you are also not protected legally. Should an aircraft be impounded at your destination for breaching its finance arrangement you could be left stranded.

Here at Air Charter Service we have a safety and compliance team who ensure that all the operators we deal with on behalf of our clients comply with all the national civil aviation regulations with regards to maintenance, operations and insurance. Each time we charter an aircraft we go out to the operator, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to ensure everything is taken care of. So should you come across a deal that looks a little too good to be true, we recommend asking the company if it has an AOC, also known as an air operator’s certificate. Chartering illegally may be cheaper in some cases, but not only can it create problems but it also puts your safety at risk.

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