#FAKEJET in Moscow

ONE OF THE MOST watched documentaries on Netflix at the moment is about the failed luxury music Fyre Festival. The festival was launched by various influencers of Instagram, the social media service, and – because of this innovative marketing – sold out in hours. Unfortunately, the actual event did not live up to the hype. The event was a disaster and the founder is now in jail for fraud, for six years.

At the end of the documentary, a journalist describes how Instagram is so important. She illustrates this by saying how Russians are hiring a parked Gulfstream G650 purely to take photos for Instagram. It is a great story and has been covered by hundreds of publications and TV programmes. The first stories emerged in 2017, but other sites have covered it this year. All tell the same story.

“Moscow-based company, the Private Jet Studio, has created a unique business by renting out a private jet for Instagram photoshoots, but there’s a catch,” said UK newspaper The Telegraph. “Russians can experience what stepping onto a luxury private jet feels like, however they won’t actually be travelling anywhere, with the plane remaining firmly on the ground during the experience.” The articles all quote a cost of Ru14,000 ($220) for two hours on the jet with a photographer, or Ru11,000 ($170) without.

“Most Instagram stars have at least one glamorous shot on a private jet,” said Business Insider. “And now even ordinary people can fake a lavish lifestyle by hiring a grounded private jet as a backdrop.” Instagrammers want to show how glamourous their lives are. “Of course, for now, you will have to fly to Moscow just to pretend to fly in Moscow — but when it comes to gaining followers, it seems the sky’s the limit,” wrote Teen Vogue.

Unfortunately, it is rubbish.

There is no aircraft parked waiting for Instagrammers. And the photos clearly show it is not a G650 (just look at the windows). The maths does not work. Renting out a $70 million business jet at $170 an hour is not great business. At that rate, it would take 47 years to pay off the aircraft (provided that you never had an empty hour, that the airport let you park it for free, that you paid cash so did not have interest charges, and that you had no staff costs).

As the name suggests, Private Jet Studio is a mocked-up aircraft in a studio, on an industrial estate in Moscow. The interior appears to be a hybrid of several aircraft models. And the vast majority of photographs on Private Jet Studio’s Instagram page are collected from other sources on the web (one was the cover for a 2010 Hawker Beechcraft magazine).

There is a lot of irony here. Journalists writing about Instagrammers using a parked G650 to create fake photos, are actually writing fake news.

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