Soaring demand for exclusive flights
PICK up the telephone, make a quick call and within just 60 minutes you find yourself flying out of Edinburgh Airport to virtually anywhere in the world.
Instead of the hassle of checking in hours before your plane leaves and waiting in lengthy queues - running the risk of missing your flight altogether as your stress levels go through the roof - you will breeze through a private security search in a matter of minutes.
If you are late for any reason, then polite, friendly staff will be more than happy to make the aircraft wait for you and your luggage.
As you take off for your chosen destination you are assured of ample legroom instead of an unwelcome reintroduction to your knees and the fear of deep vein thrombosis as you enjoy free refreshments of your choice.
And when you land, a helicopter or limousine will be there to whisk you off to your hotel.
This was once the exclusive world of the rich and famous. Something the Hollywood A-list and billionaires like Donald Trump would take for granted. But nowadays it is one increasingly familiar to more ordinary business executives across Scotland, with the corporate bookings of private jets soaring.
Fed up with wasting valuable staff time on traditional commercial flights, firms are fast becoming the new jet-set as they invest heavily in high-end air travel.
That's why Club 328 has become the latest operator to move in on the Scottish market, bringing its leading "Spacejet" - the 15-seater Dornier 328 to Edinburgh Airport earlier this month.
Elaine Young, Club 328 chief executive, says: "There is a huge demand in Scotland. There are a lot of banks with staff travelling regularly to London for meetings and it's not particularly time-efficient to take commercial flights.
"On the Dornier 328 they can arrive at the airport just ten minutes before their flight and go through a separate security check. They also receive door-to-door service [with limousines and helicopters among the options for transfers] because they can choose when and where they want to fly."
The firm charges per hour for its aircraft rather than by seat, and at around 2,000 to 4,000 depending on the type of jet, this is not a cheap mode of travel.
But Young says for firms using jets as corporate "shuttles" for groups of staff, the cost is often the same or only slightly higher than the price of a business-class seat on a mainstream commercial flight. Statistics show just how popular such exclusive travel has become among businesses, with recent figures from airport operator BAA showing that the number of private jet flights in and out of its three Scottish airports has risen by 50 per cent in the past six years to more than 7,000.
Growing demand has also fuelled further expansion into Scotland by the world's largest private jet operator, NetJets Europe, which is hiring around 20 crew, mostly pilots as well as flight attendants, for a new base in Aberdeen, in addition to a similar-sized existing centre in Edinburgh.
And while Club 328 is initially looking to focus on cities such as London, Amsterdam, Dublin and Geneva, NetJets already flies nearly 100 regular business clients from industries such as financial services, real estate and oil from Scotland all around the world, taking in harder to reach destinations such as Morocco and Romania. Robert Dranitzke, director of marketing for the firm, says it is this flexibility and efficiency which makes it worthwhile for companies to spend upwards of 85,000 on 25 hours of flight time.
"What we sell people is time," he says. "Our clients are not paying to sip champagne at 40,000ft, they are paying so that they can book flights when they need them, leave from their nearest airport and get to important business meetings quickly.
"It is about unlocking the potential of your top revenue producers so that they can get to more meetings to make big decisions like whether to open a new factory to ultimately make more money for shareholders.
"When you accept the premise that someone's time can be that valuable, you begin to understand why this is such big business."
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