NetJets, the founder of fractional aircraft ownership and the world’s biggest purchaser of business jets, put some more distance between itself and mere market mortals yesterday with an order for 96 new Cessna Citations valued at more than $1 billion.
The order includes 50 Citation Encore+ models, 37 XLS+s and nine Citation Xs, all of which have been allotted spots in the production schedule, said Roger White, Cessna senior vice president of sales and marketing. First deliveries of the Encore+s will start next year and be followed by deliveries of the XLS+s and Citation Xs beginning in 2009 and 2010.
Literally breaking out into song at one point during a lighthearted signing ceremony at Cessna’s Le Bourget chalet, NetJets founder and chairman Richard Santulli made official a deal he said has been in the works for a long time. “I contacted Roger a while ago to let him know to hold open the slots for these airplanes,” he said.
Flanked by White and Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton, Santulli said Cessna’s stellar maintenance support for the NetJets fleet was a vital consideration in placing yet another big Citation order. “Each of our airplanes flies a thousand or eleven hundred hours a year,” he said. “We need fast turnaround to make our business successful and Cessna has done a spectacular job providing support for our fleet.”
The sale marks the first time NetJets will operate the Encore+, although the original Encore and Citation Ultra have been “workhorses” of the NetJets fleet since the mid-1990s, Santulli said. In the companies’ 21-year business relationship going back to NetJets’ formation in 1986, Cessna has delivered 340 Citations for the fractional operation.
NetJets today flies 304 Citations in support of its U.S. and European customers. All of the airplanes included in this latest order are for U.S share buyers, Santulli said.
NetJets last September placed an order for 24 Falcon 7X trijets valued at $1.1 billion. The company last fall also placed orders for 30 Hawker 750s and 18 Hawker 900XPs in a deal valued at more than $500 million.
Clearly with this latest deal for Citations, the fractional giant’s appetite for business jets is as insatiable as ever.