What is a Ferry Flight?

A ferry flight is the flying of an aircraft for the purpose of returning to base, delivery to a customer, moving from one base of operations to another or moving to or from a maintenance facility for maintenance, repair and operations. 

Ferry flights are common with large passenger aircraft and cargo planes. The crew will fly the aircraft for its intended airline’s entire scheduled route, take a break for a few hours then continue the same process in order to deliver another plane that needs the route tested prior to entering service.

But ferry flights aren’t just for cargo planes. Turns out, private jets also find themselves in the wrong location for their next journey or charter. In other words, Ferry Flights are one-way flights with the sole purpose of getting the aircraft to a different location.

In this article, we look at why a ferry flight is necessary and what it means to the charter operator and potential passengers.

Why a Ferry Flight is Needed

There are a number of reasons why a ferry flight needs to take place so an aircraft can be transported to another location.

  • Returning the aircraft to its home base
  • Required maintenance means the aircraft has to fly to or from a repair facility
  • Positioning an aircraft for the next charter

Did you know that Ferry flights, or repo flights, make up more than 30% of all private jet flights? Charter companies often have to run them at a loss as these flights are often flown without passengers. This means they generate no revenue, especially when the aircraft is being moved for maintenance purposes.

However, there are a couple of ways that private jet operators can cover the costs associated with ferry flights.

Ferry Flight Fees

Due to the expense involved with moving an aircraft, operators try to avoid ferry flights whenever possible. However, when a private jet is chartered to pick up a passenger from a different airport to where it’s currently positioned, the operator will often charge a ferry flight fee.

If the total price of the complete charter booking is high enough to offset the repo flight, this ferry flight fee is usually waived and included in the overall cost.

Empty Leg Charter

Another way a charter company can generate income is through empty leg bookings. With so many ferry flights taking place around the world, companies will often operate ferry flights as empty leg charters instead of flying an empty aircraft.

These empty leg flights are usually the result of an aircraft dropping off passengers at their final destination and needing to return to their home base. Other times, the aircraft needs to be repositioned to collect passengers at another airport.

Whatever the reason, empty legs are a great way for passengers to pick up a seat on a private jet for a fraction of the usual cost. The operator generates revenue to cover its ferry flight costs while passengers who can be flexible with their schedule get to experience the luxury of a private jet charter.

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