ShAirForce ups the marketing ante

 - April 14, 2008, 9:59 AM

New York City-based ShAirForce LLC continues to move forward with its plan to become the world’s first fractional operator to offer its clients premium-class-only aircraft with daily nonstop service between high-demand domestic and international city pairs. The company recently released its Web site address (www.ShAirForce.com) and toll-free number, (866) Go-ShAir. The site went online one day after ShAirForce signed a long-term agreement with Piedmont Aviation Services to operate its fleet of new 36-passenger BBJ2s on Piedmont’s Pace Airlines’ Part 121 certificate. The contract calls for Pace to operate and maintain the fleet.

According to ShAirForce’s president Art Brown, the fractional will provide luxury transportation for the employees and guests of several corporations. Those passengers will fly together on large-cabin private jets while paying up to 98 percent less than fractional ownership or private charter programs on a passenger flight-hour cost basis, ShAirForce claims.

“Our marketing efforts will be focused on corporations and high-net-worth individuals who seek the inherent convenience and security of a large-cabin corporate jet,” Brown told AIN. “We believe our market is those who currently fly commercial or charter aircraft. Our price structure–based on an entitlement to passenger hours, not on entire planeload usage–will take people out of commercial flights and get them to their destination much faster. This will increase the traveler’s productivity immensely, whether they had been flying with the airlines as an executive in first class or middle manager in coach.”

Brown explained that a given BBJ2 would be assigned to its own specific city pair and fly multiple round trips on a frequent and regular basis each day. “Usage of any ShAirForceOne [ShAirForce’s program name] aircraft depends on the ownership share and corresponding passenger flight-hour entitlement purchased,” Brown said. For example, a company that purchases a 1/48 ownership share of one aircraft is entitled to 1,000 passenger hours per year. Any ShAirForceOne owners’ executives, employees or guests may use these hours, always at the same fixed price per passenger flight hour, on any ShAirForceOne aircraft operating between any ShAirForce city pair. “Owners and their guests may travel one at a time, or with up to 36 passengers, always for the same fixed cost per passenger flight hour.”

The company is now taking orders for fractional shares and anticipates an initial purchase of one or two aircraft, with fleet expansion based on demand. The aircraft are initially slated to be based in Winston-Salem, N.C., Pace’s home base. ShAirForceOne plans to place the first aircraft in service during the first quarter of next year–perhaps over-optimistically, since it has yet to order the aircraft or choose a completion center. A spokesman told AIN that the ShAirForceOne BBJ2 cabin will more closely resemble that of a corporate BBJ than the first-class cabin of an airliner. Based on current interest, the aircraft will likely be assigned to a New York-Los Angeles, New York-London or New York-Paris city pair. While the company is eyeing the New York area first, it is open to selling shares in aircraft that could potentially operate between any of 250 domestic and 53 international city pairs identified by ShAirForce as being in high demand.

“The savings are significant,” Brown claimed. “ShAirForce combined ownership and flight costs beat average domestic major market commercial airline premium-class fares, and in many cases even beat seven- and 14-day advance coach-class fares. Currently, the net cost per hour on a Gulfstream IV or V is approximately $6,100, regardless of how many people are on the aircraft. Whether there is one, two or even 10 people flying, this becomes an expensive flight. ShAirForceOne’s low cost per passenger flight hour is fixed regardless of how many people are on the aircraft.”

The plan calls for the ShAirForceOne aircraft to provide a range of 5,640 nm nonstop carrying 36 passengers. Aircraft will be configured with private meeting areas, fax machines, a concierge service, and Internet connection, telephones and digital-satellite-fed TVs at every seat.