Like most of the general aviation industry, the charter and fractional sectors have reported stable activity during the past year, with pockets of growth and decline although the number of charter hours flown so far this year is higher than the number of fractional hours.
Some charter operators are reporting record results, including high-flying monthly hours logged or other encouraging statistics, but overall, there are no magic economic bullets lifting the prospects of charter and fractional operators. As the global economy limps along, especially in regions where aviation has long been a strong part of some countries’ industrial output, growing economies in other parts of the world such as China and India offer hope to aircraft manufacturers and commercial aircraft operators of new avenues for growth.
One marked change has been that charter and fractional-share segments of commercial operations have begun to merge. Companies are not only surviving but growing, and part of the reason is that these operators are not focusing just on selling shares of aircraft but are also offering to serve customers in whatever way best suits their non-airline travel needs. If a potential customer doesn’t see the need to buy an asset that might be at risk of reduction in value, then jet cards or leases are an option. For those travelers who need the flight time available by owning a whole airplane and the flexibility offered by large flight operations with plenty of support, all of the big operations offer whole-aircraft management services.
The landscape of charter and fractional operations hasn’t changed that much from last year to this year. But compared to when fractionals were the fast-growing darlings of aviation, they have now matured and are much more integrated with their charter operations and offer many more options to customers.
In recognition of this transition, this year AIN is covering the charter and fractional segments together, in two parts. In the first part, the current landscape of charter and fractional operators will be covered, including statistics showing activity levels around the globe. The second part, which will appear next month, will explore issues affecting the charter and fractional segments.