With the proven and recognized benefits of chartering aircraft, brokers and operators have for years been searching for business models that will permit them to market charters on business aircraft to the public on a per-seat basis rather than chartering the whole aircraft (on a plane load single-entity basis). This effort has been spurred by the internet and technological advances such as smartphone apps that enhance marketers’ abilities to match passengers with available aircraft. Entrepreneurs who witness success in other industries are eager to apply crowdsourcing, sharing economy and other technological solutions to the on-demand charter industry.

A primary consideration with such business models is concern over whether their implementation results in regulatory agencies considering flights to be impermissible “scheduled” operations, or, in the case of the Department of Transportation (DOT), to also consider that the seller is acting as an unauthorized indirect air carrier. Many such models have been attempted, with some having been informally approved by DOT; others disapproved informally, or via regulatory agency enforcement action; and yet others not having undergone regulatory scrutiny.

Download NBAA’s Guide to Selling Charter by the Seat

This resource is intended to provide an overview of (a) the types of per-seat and planeload charter operations using aircraft operated under Part 135 – scheduled, charter and on-demand operations, and (b) certain regulatory considerations that govern such operations. This analysis is not intended as a checklist of the legal and regulatory issues that may relate to specific types of programs; rather, it is intended to provide members with an introduction to the rules surrounding single seat charter sales. It is not intended to provide more than an illustrative introduction to the subject matter, and since the information is general in nature, it is no substitute for the advice of legal professionals addressing a specific set of facts that readers may face.