A Little About Empty Legs

January 27, 2020

It’s hard to determine when the term empty leg was first used to describe a route or leg flown by a private jet aircraft without passengers. However, it’s likely to assume since private jet travel was born in the 1960s with the development and flight of the first Learjet, empty legs started about the same time.

Empty legs are an important element of the private jet industry, from time to time an aircraft has to fly from one destination to another without passengers onboard to support its trip itinerary. The flight, or, leg producing the empty leg is often called a dropoff, or a pickup. In the event of a drop-off, the aircraft is dropping off passengers at their destination, and either flying/positioning back to base, or, onto its next departure point without passengers onboard. The benefit to the public is empty legs are often much less expensive than typical charter flights, and can be comparable, or, even less than first-class airfare if broken-down on per seat basis.

Empty legs have also been responsible for many individuals first experience with business jet travel, and if properly promoted and utilized can help improve operational efficiency and reduce the number of flights required to move the same number of passengers. An empty leg can result from a handful of flight operational outcomes, but the majority of empty leg flights result from it not being financially, or, logistically reasonable to leave the aircraft on the ground for an extended period. It doesn’t make financial sense for the aircraft to sit and wait for the primary passengers utilizing the aircraft to head to their next destination, or, return to their original point of origin. Aircraft earn revenue when they are flying, wait time, or, day minimums are often charged when an aircraft is sitting on the ground on a charter flight, but aircraft produce revenue when they’re operational.  There are a number of benefits to empty legs, however, there is a catch, empty legs are like flying standby and can change, or, even cancel. The closer to departure the better the chance the flight won’t change but when inquiring weeks out it’s hard to determine if the date, or, time will change. Therefore, it’s best to work directly with an operator like Chartright to determine if you’re schedule can be flexible enough to realize the full benefit of empty leg travel.

Chartright posts hundreds of empty leg flights monthly ranging from $3,000 to $30,000+. Popular empty leg routes exist between Toronto, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts to Florida & the Caribbean.  Chartright is one of the largest private jet management, and air charter operators in the world and lists their empty legs in real-time directly on their website emptylegs.chartright.com

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