How Common Are Private Jets?

Private Jets Waiting on Apron

The private jet market is currently undergoing unprecedented demand, making the concept of traveling by private jet almost common.

For a variety of reasons, both charter and ownership demand is soaring. However, due to the excess demand cracks are starting to emerge. The primary form of those cracks is a lack of aircraft.

Therefore, how common are private jets? How many are there around the world? Which models are the most popular? How often do private jets fly? And how does all of this compare with commercial aviation?

Private Jets Waiting on Apron

Daily Private Jet Flights

How many private jets fly per day? Additionally, how has this changed over the past two years?

Firstly, the number of flights per day. Naturally, there are fluctuations in figures depending on the day of the week and the month of the year.

For example, Saturdays usually have the fewest number of flights. Conversely, Thursdays usually see the greatest number of flights during the week.

At the time of writing (October 2021), the average number of global daily business jet flights is around 11,500 flights per day, plus or minus 1,500 flights per day.

How common are private jets?

However, as mentioned, 2021 is seeing a significant increase in demand over 2019. Of course, 2019 is the last “normal” year on the books. Due to Covid, 2020 is regarded as an abnormal year for the aviation industry.

Throughout 2021 the number of flights has consistently been above that of the 2019 levels. At one point in mid-June, weekly flight numbers were 32% above 2019 levels. Daily flights for the week in 2018 were around 8,500. In 2021, for the same week, daily figures were just over 11,200.

At the low point of growth in 2021, daily figures were just 4% above the levels in 2019.

However, in the first quarter of 2020, demand levels were exceeding both 2019 and 2021 levels. From January to mid-March, 2020 daily flights were consistently around 10% greater than the levels recorded in 2019.

Private Jet Flights by Region

When it comes to where in the world private jets are most common, the United States easily wins. Every day, around 60% of all private jet flights are domestic within the United States of America.

The second most popular region for private jet flights is tied between international US flights and domestic European flights.

In terms of figures, around 10% of all private jet flights are international US. That is to say, the mission either starts or finishes in the United States. This matches up with another 10% of all private jet flights taking place within Continental Europe.

Therefore, on any given day, approximately 70% of all private jet flights will at some point operate within the United States of America. Then, on top of these figures, there is the 10% of private jet flights within Continental Europe (excluding the UK).

Out of the remaining 20% of private jet flights, some of these take place between EU countries and the UK. Some are domestic within each European country.

However, at most, these individual regions will be looking at around 5% of all private jets flights.

Most regions will see far fewer private jet flights than this. For example, the UK sees only 3.5% / 4% of all private jet flights. This figure is both domestic and international.

Daily Commercial Flights

As you would expect, there are far more commercial flights than private jet flights.

However, unlike the private jet market, commercial flights are significantly down compared with 2019 levels.

As a percentage, there are on average 22% fewer commercial aviation flights in 2021 compared with 2019.

Qatar Airways Airbus A350 A7-AME

However, even at the current 2021 levels, there are around 8 times as many daily flights compared with private jets.

On average there are around 80,000 commercial aviation flights every single day (October 2021). Moreover, in 2019 there were, on average, just under 110,000 global commercial flights per day.

Of course, at the start of the year, there were far fewer commercial flights. February was the low point of the year, seeing around 50,000 flights per day. This number is half of the daily figures during 2019.

Commercial Flights by Region

While it is hardly a surprise that there are more commercial flights than private jet flights, the regional breakdown is surprising.

While around 60% of all private jet flights are domestic within the United States, only 30% of all commercial flights are.

Moreover, there is no longer a tie between US international flights and ‘domestic’ European flights. Flights within Continental Europe far exceed those of international US flights.

Approximately 20% of all commercial flights take place within Continental Europe. Furthermore, only around 5% of all commercial flights are international US flights.

This means that while 80% of all private jet flights involved the US and Europe, only 55% of commercial flights do.

Therefore, what regions contribute to the other 45% of commercial flights?

The answer – China.

Domestic flights within China make up around 12% – 15% of all global commercial flights.

In comparison, domestic private jet flights in China represent less than 0.01% of all global flights.

Total Private Jet Aircraft

In total, there are around 22,000 private jet aircraft in operation around the world. However, as you would expect, the majority of these aircraft are based in the United States.

One of the most popular models is, in fact, not even a jet aircraft. The Pilatus PC-12 is one of the most popular aircraft currently in operation.

There are just over 920 Pilatus PC-12 NG aircraft currently in service.

Please refer to the table below to see the current figures for in-service private jets.

Dassault Falcon 6X Exterior during flight - common

Generally speaking, the most common aircraft are on the smaller end of the scale – such as the Phenom 300 (light jet) and Cessna Citation Mustang (VLJ).

Additionally, the aircraft that are more common are generally older. Of course, this is hardly surprising given that they have had longer production runs so there is more time to build aircraft.

Given the complexities of any aircraft, it takes a significant amount of time to construct a private jet. However, the number of aircraft produced per year is still extremely impressive.

For example, the production life of the Gulfstream G550 was 18 years. Therefore, Gulfstream was building, on average, 35 G550 jets per year.

Of course, please note that not all these aircraft are used for charter or VIP travel. For example, many private jets are used as air ambulances (see Royal Flying Doctor Service) or as military aircraft.

AircraftNumber in Service
Pilatus PC-12 NG926
Gulfstream G550620
Bombardier Learjet 35A387
Cessna Citation II469
Embraer Phenom 300483
Cessna Citation Mustang474
Bombardier Challenger 300453
Hawker 800XP392
Cessna Citation CJ3412
Bombardier Challenger 350389
Cessna Citation Excel358
Bombardier Challenger 604351
Gulfstream G450354
Cessna Citation Sovereign348
Cessna Citation CJ4342
Cessna Citation X+339
Cessna Citation Bravo316
Bombardier Global 6000334
Cessna Citation XLS328
Bombardier Learjet 60286
Cessna Citation X306
Embraer Phenom 100296
Gulfstream GIVSP296
Cessna Citation XLS+296
Dassault Falcon 7X293
Bombardier Challenger 605288
Cessna Citation M2281
Cessna Citation V Ultra271
Eclipse 500252
Gulfstream G650ER270
Cessna Citation V252
Cessna Citation I260
Gulfstream G200238
Gulfstream GII250
Bombardier Learjet 45236
Cessna Citation CJ2235
Bombardier Global 5000237
Dassault Falcon 50186
Hawker 800A168
Dassault Falcon 2000222
Cessna Citation CJ2+223
Dassault Falcon 10226
Hawker 400XP220
Gulfstream G280222
Cessna Citation Latitude209
Bombardier Learjet 31A191
Bombardier Learjet 45XR204
Cessna Citation III169
Gulfstream GIII112
Gulfstream G650198
Cessna Citation CJ1195
Gulfstream GIV161
Gulfstream GV190
Cessna Citation CJ3+186
Embraer Legacy 600177
Cessna Citation Encore159
HondaJet HA-420166
Bombardier Global Express XRS160
Beechcraft Premier IA154
Cessna Citation SII137
Dassault Falcon 900B156
Bombardier Global Express142
Pilatus PC-24145
Bombardier Learjet 75143
Bombardier Learjet 75 Liberty136
Bombardier Challenger 601-3A118
Beechcraft Premier I119
Dassault Falcon 2000LX133
Gulfstream G150125
Embraer Phenom 300E125
Bombardier Challenger 650124
Bombardier Learjet 5595
Dassault Falcon 900EX EASy119
Cessna Citation VII113
Dassault Falcon 900EX118
IAI Westwind 168
Bombardier Learjet 60XR111
Dassault Falcon 2000LXS109
Dassault Falcon 2000EX EASy102
Cessna Citation CJ1+101
Dassault Falcon 50EX100
Cessna Citation Sovereign+100
Hawker 850XP99
Embraer Legacy 65097
Bombardier Learjet 40XR92
Cirrus Vision Jet SF5090
IAI Westwind 264
Bombardier Challenger 60065
Dassault Falcon 900LX82
Embraer Legacy 50082
Hawker 400068
Dassault Falcon 8X78
Bombardier Challenger 85071
Cessna Citation Encore+66
Bombardier Challenger 601-3R56
Embraer Legacy 45058
Hawker 75048
Bombardier Learjet 36A37
Embraer Phenom 100EV45
Dassault Falcon 2000S43
Embraer Praetor 60041
Bombardier Learjet 4039
Bombardier Learjet 3129
Cessna Citation VI36
Nextant 400XTi35
Eclipse 55033
Gulfstream G60033
Cessna Citation Longitude27
Dassault Falcon 2000EX26
Embraer Phenom 100E26
Dassault Falcon 900C25
Bombardier Global 750024
Dassault Falcon 900DX24
Gulfstream G40023
Gulfstream G10021
Embraer Lineage 100018
Embraer Praetor 50018
Bombardier Learjet 55C13
Gulfstream G30013
Gulfstream G35011
Gulfstream G5009
Embraer Lineage 1000E8
Number of Private Jets in Service Around the World

Total Commercial Aircraft

Surprisingly, despite the fact that there are around 8 to 10 times as many commercial flights then private jet flights, the global fleet size isn’t much bigger.

Globally, there are around 26,000 commercial aircraft. This isn’t much more than the estimated 22,000 private jets around the world.

However, a key difference is the number of individual models of aircraft. With commercial aircraft, there is far more dominance of a few manufacturers and a few models.

For example, worldwide, there are around 6,500 Boeing 737 aircraft in service (over 9,000 have ever been delivered). This means that the Boeing 737 makes up around 25% of all in-service commercial aircraft.

Additionally, there are more than 5,000 Airbus A320 family aircraft currently in-service.

Not only does this highlight the dominance of just a select few aircraft models, but it also follows that smaller, domestic aircraft are the most popular. For example, one of the most popular long-haul aircraft is the Boeing 777. However, just over 800 have been delivered. This figure is considerably smaller than the 737 and A320 models.

Common Airliner - Southwest Boeing 737

Additionally, as expected when discussing the regional distribution of commercial flights, the majority of commercial aircraft are based in the US and Asia.

Please refer to the table below to see the 2019 commercial fleet distribution by continent.

ContinentNumber of Commercial Aircraft
Africa740
Russia & Central Asia1,260
Middle East1,510
Latin America1,540
Europe5,220
North America7,610
Asia Pacific8,020
Number of Commercial Aircraft Around the World

Private Jet Airports

While there are fewer private jets compared with commercial aircraft, the figures suggest that you would be seeing them more regularly. Therefore, where are all these private jets? And where are they flying between?

Typically, private jets don’t use the usual commercial airports. Of course, there are some cases where the airport that an airline uses will be the most convenient one.

However, in many cases, private jets fly from smaller airports. Not only is there less traffic, but smaller airports are also usually closer to the final destination. Therefore, overall travel time is reduced. And, after all, this is the critical benefit of flying by private jet.

Biggin Hill Airport FBO - common private jets
London Biggin Hill Airport FBO

For example, London has a variety of airports to use, both for commercial flights and private jets. However, there are only a few points of overlap. For example, private jets will almost never fly in or out of Heathrow or Gatwick. However, they will fly from Stansted, Luton, and London City.

Conversely, private jets operate from Farnborough, Biggin Hill, and RAF Northolt. However, commercial aircraft will not operate from these airports.

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Additionally, private jet passengers will transition through the FBO. The FBO is essentially the terminal for private jet passengers. And, thanks to the convenience and efficiency of flying by private jet, passengers only need to arrive 15 minutes prior to departure. Therefore, the entire process of flying private is extremely quick.

Therefore, the reason that you are unlikely to run into a private jet when flying commercially is due to the aircraft being at a completely different airport (see Los Angeles to Las Vegas by private jet).

Data Sources

Our daily flight figures, along with regional flight figures, are supplied from our Daily Tracker dashboard. Learn more here. This data is compiled from over 14 different global sources.

Private jet in-service figures have been compiled from the number of aircraft that are registered around the world.

Commercial aircraft fleet figures are courtesy of Statista.

Airport information is supplied from our Private Jet Airport Map. Learn more here.

Summary

So, how common are private jets?

Obviously, compared with commercial aircraft, not very common. At the moment commercial figures are lower than “normal” and private jet figures are well above “normal”.

Therefore, the gap between the two has shrunk. However, it is safe to assume that around 10% of all flights will be private jet flights. However, in many cases, these will likely be empty legs.

Moreover, despite the fact that there are around 8 times as many commercial flights as private jet flights, the fleet size is only marginally larger.