Empty legs in the summer season

At this time of year, we see a peak in interest for empty leg flights within Europe – and there are more empty legs available. The private jet market in Europe is very seasonal, so there’s a huge surge in activity in the summer months, mostly additional leisure flights.

This is one of the ways the European market differs from the USA, which sees more even demand year-round (see our recent study: Comparing the private jet market Europe versus USA ).

What is a private jet empty leg?

An empty leg – sometimes referred to as an empty sector – is a one-way flight that comes about when a private jet is repositioning. As the aircraft is flying empty to start its next booked flight, the owner or operator will often be happy to sell this one-way leg at a big discount. This can often be a fraction of the full price, as much as 75% off the usual charter price.

For example if an aircraft is currently on the ground in Geneva and is booked for a flight from Nice Cote D’Azur to Olbia, it will need to fly to Nice to collect the passengers and to start the flight. So the Geneva to Nice flight would be a potential empty leg.

Obviously the operator of the aircraft would prefer to sell this as a full price charter. But unlike airline flights, which are scheduled very tightly to avoid flying aircraft empty wherever possible, the private jet market is highly fragmented, with bespoke routes and schedules arranged to fit each customer’s needs. So in reality, it is often very difficult to sell this flight to a private jet customer at full price. The operator may therefore be happy to cover their costs by selling it as an empty leg.

How much does an empty leg cost?

In the summer peak in Europe, there are some great deals to be had right now. Last week we saw an offer for a flight from London to Cannes, which was £1,200 for a 7-seater aircraft. If you filled the seats, the cost per person, at £171, would have been less than a low cost airline flight. Other flights can offer per person prices to rival business class seats.

Of course, an empty leg doesn’t offer the same advantages as a normal private jet flight. Offers are coming and going all the time and can be subject to last minute changes. But if people are prepared to be flexible; book last minute; and travel as a group, it can be a way to experience a private jet flight for a price more usually seen on an airline ticket.

The other thing to remember is that private jet empty legs are usually one-way flights. While a return flight can occasionally be matched up, you are most likely to enjoy a private jet experience in one direction, but then need to make a different way home.

At PrivateFly, we’re integrated with over 7,000 aircraft globally, and offer empty legs all over the world. We’re now integrated with the scheduling software for many leading, global operators, which allows us to see a live feed of their available empty legs – as well as the ability to give instant pricing and booking for standard private charter flights (for more on this see: A new era for online private jet booking).


The best way to see latest empty leg offers and availability? Download the PrivateFly app