Black charter: There is nothing grey about illegal air charter


Prada's matte black Gulfstream G450 (Photo: Antony Pratt).

Why the risks of illegally chartering a private jet completely outweigh the minimal reward.
Prada's matte black Gulfstream G450 (Photo: Antony Pratt).

Prada’s matte black Gulfstream G450 (Photo: Antony Pratt).

In the next few months, we are going to hear a lot more about illegal charter flights in Europe. In the past, some people have referred to it as grey charter, but this is not really a term we are encouraged to use – although the illegal charter spectrum does range from ‘grey’ areas, where owners accept a contribution towards fuel from a friend, right through to operators deliberately breaking cabotage rules.

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Illegal charter upsets a lot of people. Charter operators and reputable brokers believe it hits their business badly and financiers are rightly concerned that people are using assets they have financed for illegal purposes. The big problem is that few civil aviation authorities actively pursue it and when they do, it is a very hard thing to prove.

However, it would be wrong to dismiss it. Insurance underwriters are starting to take it very seriously – especially at a time when premiums are low. Several major insurers are saying that they will not pay out if there is a claim for an incident that has occurred where illegal charter took place.

Accidents are fortunately rare, but operating a jet without insurance makes illegal charter a case where the risk completely outweighs the illegal reward.