Euro charter firms offer ‘light’ options

 - October 30, 2006, 7:53 AM

Increasing demand from wealthy individuals for the Bombardier Skyjet International fixed-rate block charter program has prompted the company to experiment with a new option called Jet Membership Light. This option–which gives customers 25 hours in light jets for $135,000 (€112,500)–is currently available only in Europe.
The main difference between Jet Membership Light and the main Skyjet offerings is that the light option does not guarantee clients access to a specific type of jet (although they can express a preference). Bombardier will provide either a Learjet 31A, Learjet 40, Citation Ultra or Citation Bravo.

The service is offered on the basis of Skyjet’s standard Jet Membership one-way occupied-hour terms, and the owner must use the hours within a 12-month period. The reduced-rate “same-day round trip” and “by the day” options are not available through the Light package. All other Jet Membership terms and conditions apply, including guaranteed aircraft availability if a flight request is made by 4 p.m. the day before departure.

Under the standard Jet Membership one-way package in Europe, 25 hours in a Learjet 31A are priced at $153,000 (€128,000)–12 percent more than the Light option (or $6,145 [€5,120] per flight hour, versus $5,401 [€4,500]). The “same-day round trip” hourly rate for a 25-hour customer is $4,885 (€4,095) and the “by the day” rate is $4,751 (€3,960).

Jet Membership Light, which might be introduced to other regions too, is also the first time that Bombardier has offered another manufacturer’s business aircraft through Skyjet. From the manufacturer’s perspective, one of the main purposes of the program is to stimulate new aircraft sales, but it wanted to make the new option as affordable and flexible as possible to attract new users. Bombardier introduced the new option in October and will extend it into next year.

According to managing director Judith Moreton, Skyjet has achieved 30-percent growth since it was introduced nine months ago as a relaunch of the previous Flexjet service. The program, which offers flights in more than 900 Bombardier aircraft worldwide, now has 35 percent more customers than it did when the change was made and is generating 25 percent more revenue flight hours for the charter operators who fly the services. The program is available for flights within and between four regions of the world: North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific and the Middle East.

Moreton told AIN that demand is growing particularly well among corporate customers and other “large volume” users, who typically commit to between 100 and 200 hours of flight time. This in turn is boosting demand to use the Skyjet aircraft for leisure trips as executives traveling under their company’s membership realize that the service is more affordable than they had imagined for personal use.

Meanwhile, NetJets Europe is once again offering limited winter season 10-hour passes that can be used for flights between the beginning of this month and early April. Both the Ski Pass and the NetJets Ten package offer 10 occupied flight hours in its Citation Bravo and Excel and Raytheon Hawker 400XP for $61,950 (£35,000).

The NetJets Europe package most similar to Skyjet’s Jet Membership Light is its 25-hour Private Jet Card for the Citation Bravo, which is currently priced at $136,000 (€114,000).

NetJets Europe is sold out for the Hawker 800XP, Dassault Falcon 2000 and 2000EX, and Gulfstream G500 and G550.