GROUNDED WITH A LAZY $450,000.00? HIRE YOUR OWN JET TO EUROPE
Paul Tatnell April 22nd 2010 / Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/travel/travel-news/grounded-with-a-lazy-450000-hire-your-own-jet-to-europe-20100422-teh0.html
Some well-off individuals are so anxious to get to Europe, they are willing to pay private airline companies up to $450,000 to charter a jet from Sydney to London. As airlines battle to move thousands of passengers stranded by the ash cloud over Europe, seats on flights to the continent are at a premium.
And, although a few first-class tickets on commercial jets are still available, jet chartering businesses are reporting plenty of calls. Europe or bust ... private jets are available for up to $450,000.
JetCorp Australia's director Barry Graham said the company was receiving a number of inquiries about chartering jets to Europe and expected to fly one group from Perth to London by the weekend - though he declined to say who they were and why they needed to get there. He said that both big business and individuals "with significant personal wealth" are expressing interest, with many trying to get groups together so they can split costs. "We have had a lot of inquiries over the last 48 hours ... and some that look like they will come to fruition," Mr. Graham said. "We have also had some inquiries about getting planes from London too.
We also had some calls trying to get from the east coast [of Australia] to Dubai and they'll pick up a commercial jet to London from there." Mr. Graham said passengers would usually charter something like a 13-seater Gulfstream or a Global Express jet, with ranges in excess of 10,000 kilometers, which would include three pilots and two flight attendants.
He said it was rare for anyone to charter jets to Europe because it is extremely well serviced by commercial airlines. But private jet companies now have the advantage of flying to smaller European airports that are not affected by the closures, an option not available to the major airlines. "[Chartered aircraft] have the flexibility that airlines don't. They ... can circumvent [the volcanic ash cloud] and pick more secondary airports," he said. "A lot of people are trying to get [jets] in London too ... but yes, they are very busy."
Several companies are coming up with ways to deal with the lack of seats on flights both in and out of Europe. Many have told staff that non-essential travel will be cancelled. But software company Sophos took the extraordinary step of hiring a Boeing 737 to "rescue staff" - including 20 Australians- who are stranded across Europe. The plane left Europe last night to fly to Boston, from where the Australian workers will then fly home.