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Orders for private jet planes on rise despite devastating economy

12, 22. 2008

   Private jet planes are often talked about as the property of ultimate luxury. It happened just recently that the COE's of the American automakers became the target of criticism for flying to Washington DC by their private jets. The jet aircraft they flew in were the Gulfstream jets. They are said to be priced at 4 billion to 5 billion yen each. The use of the jet planes has been increasing in the past years in Japan. Even amid the worldwide economic decline of late, they continue to be so popular that the buyers of the planes have to wait as long as five years before they get the delivery.

Order receipts more than doubled in past year

   Gulfstream jets are ranked high among private jets. Marubeni Aerospace Corp., the sales agent for Gulfstream jets in Japan, said it is true the orders for the jets have been increasing for the past year. It said several Gulfstream jets are sold each year. It refused to disclose who buys such jets. But most of the buyers are understood to be big companies listed on major stock markets and their affiliates. The company further revealed that the sales of the jets have more than doubles in the past year on an order basis, indicating that there are an increasing number of business firms that are buying private jets.

   About 100 Gulfstream jets are produced each year. In general, private jets are produced after orders have been placed for them. In some cases, the buyer has to wait for "five years" before the plane is actually delivered, according to the company.

   Rick Wagoner, chairman and CEO of GM who was harshly criticized for flying on a private jet to Washington DC, is said to use a private jet wherever he goes. The cost of flying the private jet that Wagoner used for the round trip between Detroit and Washington DC was a total of about 20,000 dollars, according to U.S. reports. Questioned about this in the Congressional hearing, Wagoner reportedly said that it would be more effective to fly a private jet and that he would be able to work more actively. In the United States and Europe, the business managers who are extremely busy use private jets on a daily basis in order to "buy time". World famous companies in the United States and Europe own private jets as a matter of course, and the people who move around the world on the job also have their own private jets, Marubeni Aerospace said.

Some 13 mil yen for Haneda-Hon Kong round trip only by rental

   The rental of private jets is also increasing. But the rental price for private jets is not cheap. According to Japan Private Jet, a company that handles the rental arrangements for private jets, a round trip between Haneda and Hong Kong costs about 13 million yen. The prices for one-way trips would be about 2.55 million yen from Haneda to Sapporo and about 3.97 million yen from Haneda to Naha.

   The company makes arrangements for chartering of a private jet only after necessary payments have been confirmed. Besides for business, chartering of the flights is made when some people want to make trips by an on-the-spot decision just because they happened to have free time. "There are no few individuals who use private jets to go, for example, to Okinawa, Macau or Hong Kong. The price would be cheaper to charter a jet for a round trip, but some people charter a jet just for one way and tell us they would call us if they would want to fly back by a chartered jet," the company said.

   Rental jets are used more frequently, however, for conducting business. The executives of major listed companies would make use of it to fly to places for meetings or conducting business negotiations. Well known show business people and artists are also frequent users.

   Recently, JTB offered the tour packages, such as a "luxurious trip to Hawaii by a private jet". Such packages are targeted at the wealthy for luxurious family trips or purely private trips with close friends by chartering jets.

   A tour by a private jet was offered as a prize in the advertisement for a prize contest conducted by Sunstar Inc. last summer: "Sunstar Tonic Airways super-fresh air travel by private jet tour campaign". Reflecting various new ways of making the use of private jets for chartering, such as tie-up arrangements among business firms, the use of private jets by rental is tending to rise as a whole.

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