The world leader in fractional ownership is coming to China, but fractional shares won’t be on its service menu here–at least for the time being. After years of looking to enter the Chinese private aviation market, here at the ABACE show yesterday NetJets finally confirmed plans for a new joint venture in the People’s Republic of China.
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News and issues concerning the fractional-ownership industry and markets, including company announcements, regulations, new developments and labor issues.
After years of looking to enter the Chinese private aviation market, NetJets finally confirmed plans for a new joint venture in the People’s Republic of China today at the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (Abace) in Shanghai. Though NetJets is known as the company that pioneered the sale of aircraft fractional shares in the U.S. and Europe, its services in China “will begin only with managing and chartering aircraft that are wholly owned by customers” rather than fractional ownership.
Cessna Aircraft and the Aviation Industry Corp. of China (Avic) signed “two strategic agreements to jointly develop general and business aviation in the People’s Republic of China” on Friday. Together these agreements “pave the way for a range of business jets, utility single-engine turboprops and single-engine piston aircraft to be manufactured and certified in China,” Cessna said. “The details of our agreements are still under discussion,” a Cessna spokeswoman told AIN, “but aircraft to be produced in Chengdu and sold in China include the Sovereign and Latitude.”
China Business Aviation Group (CBAG), a Beijing-based business aircraft solutions provider, has signed a contract with Beijing Stem Cell Technologies (BSCT) authorizing CBAG to negotiate the purchase of three aircraft for the medical company. The company plans to purchase a long-range business jet, an ACJ/BBJ-type bizliner and a short-haul transport-category aircraft for regional and domestic use. One aircraft per year will be delivered beginning this year. BSCT currently owns two aircraft, but needs more to support the company’s growth.
NetJets has attained Level III of the FAA’s safety management system (SMS) pilot program. As such, NetJets is the first fractional operator, as well as the first fixed-wing Part 135 operator and the first combined Part 135/91K operator, to achieve Level III. The FAA SMS pilot program, which has a four-level system of acknowledgement, is intended to help operators develop and implement a comprehensive SMS for their entire organization through safety-centric policies and risk mitigation.
Atlanta-based Ascension Air is now offering three fully equipped 2012 Cirrus SR22Ts to individuals and pilots through its fractional ownership program. The company’s fractional ownership program requires about $10,000 down and a monthly management fee of $2,000. Ascension’s new SR22Ts include 60/40 FlexSeating in the back seat, which includes a third over-the-shoulder seat belt allowing for a fifth passenger and 60/40 fold-down seating.
After almost a decade of controversy, four years since the first complaint was filed and several postponements of the actual trial, the Bobigny Criminal Court (a French court near Paris Le Bourget Airport) decided on Tuesday to acquit NetJets Management Ltd and NetJets Transportes Aéreos (two companies trading as NetJets Europe) in a case where they were accused of employment practices contrary to French law. All civil plaintiffs’ claims were rejected.
As CitationAir transitions from selling fractional shares to focusing on its Jet Card and Jet Management products, the company plans to “begin reducing its aircraft fleet as Jet Share contracts expire,” according to a statement that AIN obtained yesterday from company president and CEO William Schultz. “A corresponding number of pilots will be furloughed as aircraft are removed from the fleet, making way for new managed aircraft,” he added.
“A few years ago NetJets was my number-one worry–its costs were far out of line with revenues, and cash was hemorrhaging,” Warren Buffett, chairman of NetJets and FlightSafety International parent company Berkshire Hathaway, wrote in his latest annual letter to shareholders, released on Saturday. “These problems are now behind us,” with NetJets delivering $227 million in pre-tax earnings last year, up $20 million from 2010.
Flight Options, the second-largest fractional jet provider in the U.S., said 2011 was one of its best years and expects the momentum to continue to build this year. In fact, the Cleveland-based company reported a healthy jump in new fractional owners last year versus 2010.
“One of the statistics from 2011 of which we are most proud is that more than one-third of all new owners came from referrals–a strong and appreciated endorsement from our current owners,” noted Flight Options CEO Michael Silvestro.