Bolstered by the introduction of the Challenger 300 and Learjet 40, Dallas-based fractional aircraft ownership operator Flexjet said it saw a 32-percent increase in the sale of shares last year compared with the year before.
Charter and Fractional » Fractional
News and issues concerning the fractional-ownership industry and markets, including company announcements, regulations, new developments and labor issues.
In the single largest training agreement in its history, Dallas-based CAE SimuFlite will soon start training all 900-plus pilots of Flight Options, the second-largest fractional aircraft ownership operation in the world. The exclusive three-year agreement, with an option for two more years, is valued at about $28 million and is effective starting this month.
With the exception of Bombardier Flexjet, 13 major and minor players in the fractional industry continued their growth cycle last year, according to Wichita-based AvData. Total net shares last year surged past 6,200, up 6.7 percent from 2002. During the same period, the fractional turbine fleet grew 6.1 percent–to more than 800 aircraft.
A May 11 trial date has been set for the start of a lawsuit in which four former Flight Options pilots allege they were fired because of their union-organizing activities before the company merged with Raytheon Travel Air. However, a settlement could come sooner. The case is scheduled to go before a mediator early this month. The pilots filed the lawsuit in late 2002.
In his annual letter to shareholders published early last month, investment mogul Warren Buffett said earnings improved last year at Berkshire Hathaway’s flight services division, which includes FlightSafety International (FSI) and NetJets. Last year the unit saw its pre-tax profits rise to $191 million on revenues of $3.24 billion, up substantially from the previous year’s $72 million profit on revenues of $2.43 billion.
On December 23 NetJets pilots overwhelmingly elected the five-member master executive council (MEC) slate known as Strong Union. Eighty-nine percent of the more than 1,900-strong unionized fractional pilot workforce supported the candidates and delivered a vote of no confidence to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 284.
Jet Aviation, the aviation services company founded in Switzerland in 1967, was recently singled out for a prestigious safety award by its insurer, AIG Aviation of Atlanta. The company’s European aircraft management and charter divisions received AIG’s Operational Excellence Award for 2003.
Westlake Village, Calif.-based Jet Alliance claims to be the first company to offer fractional shares in the Eclipse 500 very light jet. “The technology used to build this aircraft allows us to offer shares at an incredible value,” said v-p Craig Arnold. A one-sixteenth share costs $75,500, with $1,250 per month maintenance charge and $650 per occupied hour fee.
Avantair, the fractional operator flying an all-Piaggio Avanti fleet, took delivery last month of its 16th copy of the Italian-built twin-turboprop pusher. The Fairfield, N.J., company said it will continue to receive one Avanti per month through 2007, which will bring the planned fleet to nearly 50 aircraft by the end of that year. At press time the number of Avantair share-owners stood at 132.
Raytheon Aircraft last month reached a “tentative agreement” for NetJets to purchase up to 50 Hawker Horizons for its fractional aircraft fleet. The deal is expected to be finalized before the end of this month. In mid-2003, NetJets canceled a 1999 order for 50 Horizons due to “developmental and certification delays.” Full certification of the Hawker Horizon is still not expected until around midyear.