While the charter industry has seen some changes this year, the fractional-share business is undergoing a wrenching transition, with the shutdown of Avantair and the announced sale of Bombardier’s Flexjet to Flight Options parent Directional Capital.
Avantair, whose fleet of 56 efficient, fast and roomy Piaggio Avanti twin turboprops dominated the turboprop fractional market, was forced into involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy in August. Avantair accounted for a significant amount of private turboprop traffic in the U.S., and it will take some time to see how the company’s shutdown will affect the fractional business.
Of course, Avantair is the second fractional operator to have exited the business in recent times. CitationAir, Cessna’s fractional-share, charter and management division, is all but non-existent after the company’s parent, Textron, decided that aircraft operations weren’t in its best interests. CitationAir is finishing out its remaining contracts, but it won’t be surprising to see the company disappear in the not-too-distant future as aircraft manufacturers seem to have decided they are better off focusing on manufacturing rather than aircraft operations.
For a short time it appeared that the fractional-share industry would return to one dominated by three large players, but that is not the case because on September 5, Bombardier announced the sale of Flexjet to Directional Capital for $185 million. A day later, VistaJet announced a move into the U.S. charter market in an alliance with Jet Aviation Flight Services, which is to operate a fleet of 12 Bombardier Globals on its behalf.
Part 1 of AIN’s charter/fractional special report, along with special coverage of these major developments in this issue, explores the changes in both industry segments during the past year and provides a snapshot of the current state of the charter and fractional-share segments. In AIN’s November issue, various issues affecting the charter and fractional-share industries will be explored, including what happens when a key fractional player suddenly shuts down, and how that affects the owners, the state of the empty-leg charter market, charter pilot training issues and more.
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