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40 Beautiful Things: Neil Book on private aviation
Travel is one of life’s great pleasures and nothing affords freedom, ease and comfort for the frequent flyer quite like a private jet. Few know this better than Neil Book, CEO of corporate jet maintenance firm JSSI, whose family owns the 47 metre Heesen yacht Book Ends.
“They both represent the ultimate way to travel by air or water and truly push the boundaries of design, technology and performance,” says Book of the well-known synergy between private jet and superyacht ownership. “They offer their owners speed, luxury, range, grandeur and glamour. Plus, in addition to privacy and convenience, the customisation potential is limitless for both.”
Having entered the corporate jet industry around the time of the 2008 financial crash, Book is well-versed in the high and lows of the market, with many CEOs unwilling to be seen to be spending money on private travel for a number of years after the crash. Happily, explains Book, things are looking up, “From those dark days of 2009 to today, flight hours have skyrocketed. Economic growth is bringing a new generation of customers into the industry with different purchasing habits and expectations and these new owners are also being encouraged by low prices in the pre-owned market.”
So now that the industry is booming again, what are people flying? A slew of new models from builders across the industry are encouraging people to go bigger and better, says Book, pointing to Bombardier’s new Global 7500 as competition for the more established Gulfstream G650ER. Book also cites new and expanding builders, such as the new Hondajet and Pilatus’ move from propeller to jet planes (pictured top), as an encouraging sign of the health of the market.
Of course, new technologies and increasing reliance on mobile apps has also seen big changes in the industry and Book also credits these disruptors with bringing new customers to the market. “Exploring ways to share the cost with others, as they do in other areas of their daily lives, has created an opportunity to bring private aviation to a segment of the market that could not, or would not, be willing to pay thousands of dollars per flight hour,” he explained.
So, based on his experience, would Book choose to own or charter? “In most cases, it’s going to end up being more cost-effective chartering,” he admits. “However, other factors come into play and the most significant is availability. Most charter arrangements require a certain degree of advance notice before flying and may implement specific restrictions during peak periods."
“The greatest benefits a private jet delivers are time and freedom. It’s a time machine that allows an owner to make multiple trips in a single day and still return home at night – without having to deal with the torture or airport security lines. Owning a private jet brings unrivalled flexibility, which means it may be more attractive to pursue ownership and guarantee your own aircraft will be available completely on your terms.”
And, when it comes to the matter of vacation destinations, there’s only one place Book would want to fly his private jet: the Jersey Shore.