Considered one of the greatest sportsmen of all time, Shaquille O’Neal is a name that does not warrant any introduction. Standing at 2.16m tall, Shaq’s tall enough to tower over even most basketball players. With a resume that is as impressive as his, it is no secret that Shaq has made a lot of money through sponsorships, ads, and playing in the NBA (the very top of the basketball world). Estimates put his fabulous wealth at around $400 million and this number makes him one of the richest athletes in the world. In the Richest Athlete All-Time List that Forbes published in 2017, Shaq ranked as the 10th highest-paid athlete in the world with earnings of $735 million.
Shaq has a larger-than-life persona that is hard to put into words. His public perception is of a big guy with an even bigger heart. He’s the gift that simply keeps on giving. With money like this, it is no secret that people wonder about what Shaq does with his millions. Considering the fact that he is one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, one would expect that he would avoid commercial travel altogether. However, that is far from the truth. Shaq’s known to travel commercial from time to time when the need arises. He still uses private jets for his air travel needs most of the time. However, he does not own a private jet. The rationale for that is fairly simple to guess. Let’s get into that.
Buying vs renting
Buying a private jet is too big a financial commitment that most people would like to make. Even the cheapest light jets in the market will cost you around $2 million dollars. The choice between buying and renting a private is actually really dependent on this one number. That one number is he number of hours that one is flying each year. For people who are in the 70-100 hours of flying per year bracket, renting makes a lot more sense. This is due to the fact that at this level of usage, it makes no sense to take on the associated costs of buying a jet. For someone like Shaq, a similar equation is drawn. Although it must be noted that he probably flies far in excess of 100 hours, there are still reasons why he might still not see buying a jet as a prudent investment.
Shaq is known for renting the best jets out there. We are not talking about light jets that can transport 5 people at once. We’re talking about bigger jets that can transport a whole entourage of Shaq’s people and his family. These jets cost way more than just $2 million dollars a year. So, the choice for Shaq might be similar to this: Keep renting a super expensive jet or buy a relatively modest one. Combined with the fact that renting the super expensive jet also saves Shaq from the additional hassle of maintaining the jet, he chose to still only rent his jet. It doesn’t mean that he does not have the financial capability of buying jets, that is far from the truth. Shaq is rich, even for people who travel by private jet. It is simply a personal choice that he chooses to exercise.
When buying a jet, there are some associated costs that one has to keep in mind. A jet is somewhat like a trophy horse, it is very expensive to own. In the same way a trophy horse has to be fed a diet that has been determined by the best experts in the world, a jet has to be maintained monthly with mechanics who specialize in this particular niche. You can guess that these mechanics don’t come cheap. When your car stalls in the middle of the road, the worst that can happen is a bit of embarrassment for everyone involved. However, if a jet engine starts to malfunction during the middle of a flight, that quite literally means certain death for everyone involved. Because of this, aircrafts have to undergo a rigorous process of pre-flight checkups that make sure everything is fine before takeoff. With a big jet, comes bigger responsibilities. These responsibilities include the salaries of the staff that is supposed to fly with you. Human capital does not come cheap, and this also becomes a big factor in the overall costs. When you are flying, the living costs of staff might include the cost of the hotel that they are staying at, and their food is also borne by you. Depreciation is probably the single biggest cost associated with owning a private jet. Fuel costs are another obvious one as well. And what do you know, your big aircraft is also a big gas guzzler!
Thankfully, there are other ways that straddle the line between owning and renting an aircraft. One is fractional ownership. The premise of this notion is that if you are not using your private jet that frequently (which is how most people use their private jets), you can include someone else to bear the cost and jointly own the aircraft with them. This is usually done through owning shares in a company that owns the aircraft. The obvious advantage is the fact that all the costs are divided amongst the owners and thus the bill becomes much more palatable for each individual owner. However, if you’ve ever shared a bathroom with a sibling, you know that things that you have to share become unavailable when someone else is using them. With fractional ownership, this is the exact thing that becomes the issue. There will be times when the plane will be unavailable to you and if you’re rich enough to buy an aircraft, you probably don’t like when something becomes unavailable to you.
Another feasible way of enjoying an aircraft is by leasing one. The greatest advantage of this is the fact that you avoid the biggest cost of owning a private jet, depreciation. There are two types of leases, dry leases, and wet leases. In a dry lease, the lessor provides the aircraft, and all the associated costs must still be borne by the user. In a wet lease, the lessor provides ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, maintenance, and insurance). The advantage is essentially the fact that at the end of the lease, you get to return the aircraft to the lessor and bear no costs in terms of depreciation as in legal terms, the aircraft did not change hands.
So, not only did we answer the burning question related to Shaq’s ownership of private jets, but we also gave you enough information about all the other options that are available to people who are considering buying a private jet. We also discussed all the associated costs that come with buying a private aircraft. Buying a private jet does not come cheap and thus people do end up going for these options as well. All we can say is that Shaq used to fly high on the basketball court and still does in the private jets that he uses to fly around the world, signing shirts and taking selfies as he goes.
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