Santulli drops fees to lure Russians

 - January 21, 2008, 10:15 AM

NetJets Europe is targeting fast-expanding Russian businesses for its fractional-ownership program. It has dropped the ferry charges that have previously been applied for flights out of Moscow and St. Petersburg to allow Russian clients the same terms and conditions as provided to program members in western Europe.

The move has been personally approved by NetJets chairman and CEO Richard Santulli, who has concluded that the company will have to absorb the costs of aircraft positioning in the same way as it did back in the 1980s when it expanded fractional ownership from the East Coast of the U.S. to the West Coast. The move soon paid off once a sufficient critical mass of West Coast owners signed for the program.

“We want people [in eastern Europe] to feel part of it,” a NetJets Europe spokesman told AIN. At a time when demand is somewhat flat in western Europe, the company believes that there is huge potential for growth in Russia’s main business cities and also in other countries, such as the Ukraine and Turkey.

NetJets Europe expects such longer-range aircraft as the Falcon 2000 to prove popular with Russian clients wanting to travel throughout Europe. It is also planning to introduce a couple of even longer-range Gulfstream IV-SPs or Vs to its European fleet later this year to meet demand for intercontinental missions to Asia and other regions. The NetJets Europe fleet currently consists of 36 aircraft, and the company intends to increase this to 50 by the middle of next year.

Currently, Russian aviation authorities will not permit NetJets and other foreign commercial aircraft operators to fly domestic routes within Russia. NetJets will therefore be allowed to provide only international services out of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

In February, NetJets started running advertisements in the Russian business media. It is planning a sales demonstration tour to the country over the next few months.