Let’s say you own a business with locations in Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Miami. You typically carry a team of about four to seven colleagues with you between cities, and you’re flying 200,000 miles per year. Because they are popular charter aircraft—especially with Wheels Up, we’re going to compare a Citation XLS, if you want to go the jet route, or a King Air 350, if you’d prefer a turboprop. Using 200,000 miles as the common denominator, the XLS will have flown 412 hours in a calendar year. To fly that same distance, it would take you 575 hours in the King Air 350. With those numbers in mind, what’s the cost difference between the two? We’ll break it down for you.


Citation XLS

Direct Hourly Costs

Cessna’s Citation XLS burns approximately 215.10 gallons of fuel per hour, which, at $5.00 a gallon, is $1,075.50 per hour. The XLS, on average, costs $614.23 per hour in maintenance, $230.20 of which is for the airframe and $384.03 of which is for engine and APU maintenance. Every hour, you’re looking at spending $1,689.73 in direct costs.

Fixed Annual Costs

Crew expenses for the XLS are, on average, $187,200.00. To hangar the aircraft for a year, it will cost you $38,415. Insurance, which includes hull plus legal liability, will run you $14,137.50 for the year. Finally, pilot training will cost you $30,420.00 annually.

At 412 hours, that gives you:

Total annual direct costs: $696,168.76
Total annual fixed costs: $270,172.50
Total annual cost: $966,341.26


King Air 350


Direct Hourly Costs

Beechcraft’s King Air 350 burns around 122.00 gallons per hour. At $5.00 a gallon, that’s $610.00 per hour. Maintenance, on average, will cost $515.00 per hour maintenance, including $215.00 for the airframe and $300.00 for the engine and APU. That gives us $1,125.00 per hour in direct operating costs. 

Fixed Annual Costs

For a King Air 350, you’ll spend $196,219.00 on crew expenses, $30,000.00 on a hangar, $28,500.00 on insurance, and $31,005.00 on pilot training. All of that combined sets you back $285,724.00, annually.

To fly the King Air 350 575 hours in a year, you’re looking at:

Total annual direct costs: $646,875.00
Total annual fixed costs: $285,724.00
Total annual cost: $932,599.00


Retail Value

According to VREF, the average retail value of a 2007 King Air 350 is $3.3 million. The XLS, on the other hand, is $4.8 million. When all is said and done, the Citation XLS will cost about $34,000 more per year to operate than the King Air 350, and will cost you about $1.5 million more to buy.

Is an extra $1.5 million at purchase and another $30,000+ per year worth it to you for a faster plane, and the ramp presence of a private jet as opposed to a turboprop? For some people, it is. For others, the King Air 350 works just fine.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

For more detailed info, including specs, operating costs, photos, and more, check out our Single-Pilot, Turboprop, Light Jet, Midsize Jet, and Large Jet Buyers’ Guides by clicking here.

For a video comparison of these aircraft, check out René’s breakdown with updated numbers for 2019: