Life must feel a slog for Britain’s beleaguered billionaires. 

It’s bad enough they’ve had to spend much of the past 18 months holed up in one of their luxury properties, scraping by during a catastrophic scarcity of Michelin-starred chefs and multilingual nannies.

Even worse, supply issues have caused a worrying shortage of vintage Champagne for this Christmas and they can’t lay their hands on a case of 2015 Romanee-Conti Grand Cru, perfect burgundy with the turkey at £24,000 bottle, for love nor money.

And now there’s a global shortage of private jets, even second-hand models once owned by dodgy Russians or Taylor Swift.

This is because the wealthy finally got to grips with how harmful private jets can be for the environment and chose easyJet. Not at all.

A stock image of a private jet. Operators are struggling to cope with demand following a surge in the use of private jets

Stock image of private aircraft. After a sudden increase in private jet use, operators are having difficulty meeting demand.

Instead, record-breaking private jet use by super-rich has led to a shortage of aircraft as operators try to keep up with the demand. 

Wingx aviation data provider estimates that more than 4.3 millions private jet flights took place this year.

Only the first weeks of November saw an increase in sales by 54% compared to the previous year, and 16% compared to 2019.

The boom is being driven by mega-rich Americans, but the British are also very involved. For goodness sake, the Isle of Man is home to far more private planes than France or Spain.

The extraordinary demand is apparently driven by a combination of the erratic return of commercial flights — with pared- down timetables and constantly changing flight times — and the extraordinary boom in wealth of the world’s richest people, few of whom blink before snapping up a £45 million Gulfstream.

They should. It is because the waiting period for brand-new jets now averages well beyond a year.

Regardless of whether you’re after the ever-popular Bombardier BD 700 Global Express that can accommodate 12-16 passengers and is favoured by Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates and Celine Dion. Or even the super long-range BBJ 777X that seats 75 guests and will set you back over £300 million.

How frustrating! The whole process will take even longer if, like Taylor and Oprah, you’re keen to splash a bit more cash to customise your plane inside and out.

It’s hard to imagine anything better than a home-from-home with feather beds and an Italian marble bathroom. There are also valuable artworks. 

A couple share a glass of champagne aboard a private jet. Aviation data has shown more than 4.3 million private jet flights have taken place this year

Two couples share champagne on board a private plane. Aviation data has shown more than 4.3 million private jet flights have taken place this year

Taylor had her 13th birthday painted outside. Oprah’s lovely sitting area.

Even the second-hand market has been ‘picked dry’ with ferocious bidding wars for used planes and huge premiums being paid for prompt delivery of new aircraft.

Luxury fleet operators such as NetJets and Flexjet — which have enlarged their fleets and are operating more and more flights — are no longer taking on new customers for their entry-level membership programmes. 

To cap that off, pretty much every aspect of the industry — parts, mechanics, air crew and engines (the waiting time for them has increased tenfold) — is in short supply.

This seems odd considering the current climate change crisis, and recent Cop26 efforts to limit global warming.

This is because it’s one of the least environmentally friendly forms of transportation.

The average decent-sized private jet roars through about 380 gallons of fuel, emits two tonnes of CO2 for every hour in flight and generates an annual fuel bill of about £250,000. 

To put that in context, the total carbon footprint of an average person — including all travel and food — is approximately eight tonnes per year.

No wonder environmentalists went bananas when more than 400 private jets — carrying barely 1,000 world leaders, business execs and their staff — roared into local airports for Cop26. 

The interior of bedroom of private jet Airbus ACJ319 at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Russia

Bedroom of Airbus ACJ319 private aircraft at Vnukovo International Airport, Moscow, Russia

Or, indeed, shouted ‘hypocrite!’ when it emerged that self-styled climate-change activists Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex had taken 21 private jets in a two-year period, however much they protested about carbon offsetting — which is how many jet-hire companies customers can ‘pay’ for their pollution by investing into environmental projects such as planting trees.

So how on earth can anyone justify such a ridiculous transport choice — whether owning or leasing? After all, what’s so great about travelling by private jet?

‘Everything!’ cry the super-rich who stump up for the fuel bills, crew costs starting at £200,000 and maintenance bills that often top £1 million a year.

As the Mail revealed yesterday, even Prince Andrew — no slouch when it comes to luxury living — was moved to rhapsody when he travelled in a £40 million private jet owned by his friend, tycoon David Rowland. 

‘I have a completely different outlook on life and its possibilities now — while trying not to let it go to my head,’ he wrote to Rowland’s son Jonathan.

Fair enough, provided you are able to afford it, and keep the devastating environmental impacts in mind, this sounds amazing and has endless benefits.

For starters, it saves time. With a private jet, there’s no pushing and jostling with 20,000 members of the public at Heathrow Airport. 

Private jetsetters choose their own airport — close to one of their many homes, ideally — and need to allow just 15 minutes from arrival to boarding.

Private jets fly much faster than commercial airplanes. The Gulfstream G650 can travel at 516 kph, while the Boeing 7477-8i has a cruise speed of 493 kph.

And once on board, well, it’s all a bit different to the 10.30am easyJet flight to Athens. There are no masks — no need if there’s no one else on board! There are no crying babies. Plastic plane food. There are no queues at the loo. You won’t be pestered by anyone for your autograph.

You can sit where you like, do what you like — Justin Bieber likes to practise his hockey skills while his wife snoozes in bed — hit the gym and, thanks to private chefs, eat and drink what and when you like. 

Even better — and aside from all those squishy beds — with lower cabin altitude and endless air purifiers, passengers in private jets suffer less jetlag than the rest of us mere mortals.

So perhaps it’s no wonder it’s no longer just the uber wealthy using private jets.

Christian Rooney is the Bookajet director. He says that there’s more demand than ever before for personal and business use.

Since the pandemic, many wealthy families who used to travel first class are instead opting for private jets — paying between £8,000 and £10,000 to take a family of six, often plus pet (with passport) to the South of France in a cosy, Covid-free environment. 

You can make them pretend that they are Taylor or Oprah for just a few minutes, or even Russian oligarchs.

They are so sweet.

Let’s just hope that, for their sakes, their paths never cross with that of Greta Thunberg.