On Thursday, Raytheon closed an agreement with minority shareholders Brantley Partners, Brantley Capital and Monitor Clipper Equity Partners to purchase their remaining interest in Cleveland-based fractional provider Flight Options LLC. Terms were not immediately disclosed.
Charter and Fractional » Fractional
News and issues concerning the fractional-ownership industry and markets, including company announcements, regulations, new developments and labor issues.
Since the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 1108 filed an application letter to the National Mediation Board (NMB) for representation of the 830 Flight Options pilots earlier this month, the fractional provider has increased efforts to thwart the union drive. It has set up a Web site to provide information to the pilot workforce about unions and, according to NMB filings, hired union-busting law firm Ford & Harrison.
Bombardier Flexjet, the U.S.-based fractional business jet arm of Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, last month announced it would begin operations in--where else--Canada. Flexjet Canada has started operations with three Canadian-registered aircraft–two Learjet 45s and a Challenger 604–formerly in the Bombardier corporate fleet and 10 Montreal-based pilots.
The major U.S. fractional providers appear to be poised for growth this year, if estimates of pilot hiring and aircraft delivery intake are accurate. NetJets recently said it plans to hire 450 pilots this year, and New York-based analyst UBS Investment Research predicts that the New Jersey-based fractional provider will take delivery of 76 business jets by year-end.
Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, in his latest annual letter to shareholders issued Saturday, said the company’s flight services division–FlightSafety and NetJets–reported $120 million in pre-tax earnings versus $191 million in 2004. According to Buffett, “Earnings improved at FlightSafety as corporate aviation continued its rebound…[but] operating results at NetJets were a different story.
Last Thursday’s union victory for the Flight Options pilots has received mixed reactions.
NetJets Europe (NJE) has offered its flight crew new onshore contracts and improved pay. Proposed raises for pilots and flight attendants range from 4.6 percent to 26.7 percent, and new roster arrangements will limit maximum duty days to 50 days per quarter. AIN obtained a copy of the contract offer, which was sent to NetJets staff on December 1. (See box on page 30 for details.)
Bombardier guarantees its Skyjet International block charter customers availability of a specified type of business aircraft (or a superior model) if a booking is made by 4 p.m. on the day before the required departure date. The company’s ability to deliver on this guarantee depends on its being able to coordinate the charter capacity of Skyjet partner operators worldwide, including some 30 in Europe and 20 in the Middle East and Asia.
Fractional ownership operator NetJets has increased its flights to Le Bourget airport by 70 percent since the last Paris Air Show in 2003, the U.S.-based company announced here on Monday. NetJets figures show a jump from 1,400 movements over the five first months of 2003 to 2,400 movements over the equivalent period this year.
The idea of aircraft fractional ownership took some time to germinate in the Middle East. But the seed NetJets Middle East planted in 1999 has now started to bear fruit, according to company president Mohammed Al-Zeer. “Our biggest challenge at this point is to add aircraft quickly enough to meet demand,” he told Aviation International News.