Summer has arrived and getting that ‘body beautiful’ is high on everyone’s list of pre-holiday preparations. But now there is a new wave of savvy jet-setters for whom the hottest legs are actually the empty ones – and they’re busy booking, rather than buffing, ahead of their vacation. This week, we bring you ‘the skinny’ on empty leg flights.
What are empty legs?
The term ‘empty leg‘ describes a flight that’s made when an aircraft has no passengers – often for repositioning purposes. So, for example, if a jet has been chartered from London to Nice, and then returns empty to its operating base in London, or travels empty to Rome for its next charter, the flight to London or Rome would qualify as an ‘empty leg‘.
Why are empty legs so hot?
Around 40% of all private jet flights are empty, so there is a huge benefit to owners and operators in attracting passengers to fill these flights, so they can recoup at least some of their operating costs. For this reason, empty leg flights are usually available at vastly reduced prices – with savings of up to 60% of the usual charter price being possible.
Who can enjoy empty legs?
“Empty legs are ideal for anyone with a more flexible schedule,” says Toby Edwards, Victor’s Head of Business Development. “If you have a second home, for example, you can make several extra trips throughout the year at empty leg prices, instead of just a few visits at standard charter rates. Empty legs are also popular with dog owners, as they can travel with their pet in the cabin, at a price similar to that of a commercial flight, but without any of the hassle. They’re also great for a last minute impulsive getaway!”
What’s the catch?
Because empty legs are often repositioning flights, the schedule and routes are pre-determined according to the aircraft’s charter commitments. This usually makes them less suitable for last minute business meetings, but if you’re able to plan ahead and adjust your schedule or destination airport slightly, to match an available empty leg, it can be a fantastic way to charter a jet to enhance a special anniversary or birthday treat, or to reach your holiday destination with all the luxury, privacy and ease associated with private jet charter, at a price equivalent to business class on a commercial airline.
Tell me more…
“Some of our members organise multiple holidays around our empty leg availability, because they know they still get the very best on-board service, but at a fraction of the price,” adds Edwards. “In addition to booking an empty leg, members also have the option to register their interest in a particular route, so we can match them with an empty leg as soon as it becomes available or even create an alternative solution by diverting a nearby aircraft, if that’s mutually beneficial to the operator and member. It’s just one of the ways our dedicated flight management team excel in serving operators and members alike. For example, a member was with his family in Malaga recently and looking to fly back to London. We received the alert and found a matching repositioning flight on an eight-seater Citation XLS+. They paid around £4,500 for the whole aircraft and flew within a few hours of booking.”
The last word
“Victor’s trademark technology and transparency are really evident when it comes to booking empty legs,” Edwards concludes. “A broker could see a huge opportunity when matching a customer to an empty leg, and add on a massive margin. The customer would probably still get a fairly good price but it’s unlikely to be anywhere near as great as the saving made on a flight booked with Victor – plus, with our flat 10% booking fee for empty legs, the operator’s all-inclusive price goes straight through to our members, so both parties know they are getting the most from the empty leg.”
Which legs are hot right now?
Victor currently has over 200 live empty legs available, updated constantly in real-time and linked to operators’ flight management systems. At present, there are 19 flights to the Cote d’Azur alone, and 18 coming back to the UK – with plenty of other destinations to choose from. There is currently a 7-seater Citation XLS+ available from Biggin Hill to Palma, for just £3850. The full charter price is £9000, so that’s a saving of 60%.
How do I book an empty leg?
Victor membership is free and enables you to enjoy full access to the empty legs offered by over 120 operators, on around 750 different aircraft, via the website. As with all Victor quotes, empty leg flight listings include the aircraft type, specification, tail number and photographs as well as full operator details and a transparent all-inclusive price. Non-members can look at flights available, and to see full details they simply need to become a member.
View the live empty leg listings on the website here, sign up to receive our weekly empty leg round-up here, or call our experienced flight management team on +44 (0)207 384 8550 to enquire about a particular route.
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