Mallory Cantrell | August 16, 2021

Interview With a Buyer: What is it Like Owning a Private Jet?

Interview With a Buyer: What is it Like owning a Private Jet?

Purchasing an aircraft is a large capital investment. So it comes as no surprise that most private aircraft owners don’t decide to purchase a jet without careful consideration.  Jet ownership is typically a gradual process.

Many owners begin their relationship with Omni as charter customers. That was the case for Scott Leeds, the founder and owner of a successful Oil and Gas software company. In the last 10 years, Scott has partnered with Omni for brokerage, acquisition and aircraft management but gained his first impression of the company as a passenger.

“We started looking at charter companies out of Oklahoma,” Scott said,  “Just to know them first as a charter customer, but also knowing I might want to work with someone [to buy an aircraft] down the road.”

Scott said he was impressed with the whole Omni family’s professionalism from the beginning.

“There was just a good comfort level. I liked the way they ran their business. I liked their employees.”

Scott traveled between Tulsa and Houston frequently. Driving and commercial flights were an option, but it didn’t make sense for his quick turnarounds.   

“We determined that we needed to fly private to get to Oklahoma … to make a weekend or even day trip happen,” Scott said.

As his travel increased, Scott took the next step and became a fractional owner. He was a fractional owner for 2-3 years but still chartered with Omni Air Transport occasionally.

“I had the experience that probably most people have who are trying to use the fractional a little more than occasionally. It was a little harder to get scheduled on my schedule.”

When Scott first started to look at the numbers, he said he knew it would require a larger financial investment. However, the flexibility and accessibility made it worth it to him and his company. 

Scott said that working with Omni Aircraft Sales was a natural progression.  He developed a sense of trust over the years. 

“I got to know the team really well. So that’s when I sat down with them and said … Okay, I think it’s time to seriously consider moving into ownership.” 

Scott purchased a Learjet35, a small cabin, medium-range business jet manufactured by Bombardier Aerospace

“The first one worked out really well for us,” said Scott. “It was a little older plane. With both of our planes, we put them back under Omni for personal flying but also to charter it out when we are not using it to offset some of the ownership costs.”

Aircraft management was key for Scott, he said. During the acquisition process, Omni Aircraft Sales personnel helped Scott evaluate the annual costs of operating the aircraft. Chartering his plane allowed him to recoup some of the fixed costs of airplane ownership.

“Looking at the big picture, you really need someone like Omni who can take you through that process.”

It’s important to look at the capital required to purchase the plane initially, Scott said. But it’s even more important to determine what it will cost you to maintain and operate your aircraft.

“It’s really one thing to write the check upfront, but 12 times a year you have to write the check too.”

Scott said his team at Omni showed him a sample budget that allowed him to estimate the cost to operate his aircraft. The Omni Aircraft Sales team also helped Scott evaluate different operational scenarios.

“It’s one of the greatest things that Omni does. They make it very clear what the big picture is. [They say] let’s look at this airplane … if you think you’re going to operate it 100 hours for yourself and charter it 200 hours … then here’s what the economics of that airplane look like over 12 months.”

This “due diligence” gave Scott confidence in his investment as he moved forward in the acquisition process. 

According to Scott, Omni’s breadth of experience was a huge asset. With nearly 40 years of experience in charter, aircraft management and aircraft sales, Omni was “well-rounded.”  

“Not only do they have a good sense of the market for whatever type of airplane I’m looking for,” Scott said. But, more importantly, they understand the rest of the business. Because buying the airplane is one thing. Operating a plane year over year is a much different proposition.”

Scott said he leaned heavily on the experience and expertise of his sales team. He used their guidance throughout the acquisition process to not only identify planes that matched his goals for comfort and range, but also would perform well over time. 

“Maybe a particular model aircraft is really nice interior-wise … comfort-wise. But here are the gotchas on the maintenance.”

After a few years, Omni moved away from chartering Learjet 35s, so Scott decided to sell. He went back to chartering for a time, but soon discovered he needed the flexibility and availability that full ownership provided.

“We’ve tried every possible combination of what’s possible with private aviation. Ownership is what’s best for us.”

The second time around, Scott said he had a better idea of the type of plane he was looking for but still relied on Omni to assess the economics of his acquisition targets and to eliminate planes that were prone to maintenance issues.

“I got a sense that they weren’t just selling me [the aircraft] they had available. They were looking for the perfect aircraft for me … then searching.”

In the end, Scott acquired a  Learjet 60. Scott said he sees his relationship with Omni as a partnership and he doesn’t see that changing any time soon. 

“I would be hard-pressed to think that if I bought another plane if Omni is not involved in it,” said Scott.

“They are my partners.” 

Are you ready to learn more about our acquisition process? The Omni Aircraft Sales team can help get you started. Perhaps you are just beginning your journey into private aviation, with Omni Air Transport charter services, you can enjoy the luxury and convenience of your own private jet. 

Read More: The Benefits and Considerations of Private Aircraft Ownership

What Type of Aircraft is Right For Me? 

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