The voluntary fleet grounding at Avantair apparently is continuing into its sixth day. Avantair told AIN earlier this week that it stood down its entire fleet of about 60 Piaggio Avantis on Saturday to conduct safety checks. According to sources, the action was prompted by a July 28 incident in which an Avantair Avanti shed an elevator in flight.
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News and issues concerning the fractional-ownership industry and markets, including company announcements, regulations, new developments and labor issues.
On Saturday, fractional provider Avantair grounded its entire fleet of about 60 Piaggio Avanti twin turboprops to conduct “a comprehensive examination of all maintenance records and aircraft.”
Deanna White was named president of Bombardier Flexjet yesterday, following the retirement of Fred Reid, who has been at the helm of the fractional provider since August 2008. The appointment was made “effective immediately,” suggesting the change was sudden. White joined Flexjet in 2005 as the finance director and most recently served as the company’s vice president of finance. “Deanna possesses a passion for driving strategic change and implementing business plans that support the organization’s long-term strategies,” said Bombardier president and CEO Pierre Beaudoin.
Despite the outward appearance of growth with the recent announcement about the addition of Bombardier Global 6000s to its fleet, NetJets Europe is seeking further voluntary redundancies from its pilot workforce in response to prolonged softening in demand for fractional shares and jet cards, the company confirmed. It has begun a consultation process with flight crews, repeating an exercise that it embarked on three years ago at the height of the financial crisis.
NetJets Europe held an event last week in Geneva to introduce the Bombardier Global 6000 as the next type in its fleet. Meanwhile, the fractional operator awaits delivery of its first completed Global 6000 in December and is expecting to start commercial operations with the ultra-long-range jet on February 1.
NetJets is adding in-flight Aircell Internet service to another 100 or so aircraft in its fleet. In 2010 the fractional operator initially opted for Aircell Internet service aboard more than 250 of its jets, and the additional 100 systems will expand NetJets’ connected fleet by about 40 percent. The installation process is already under way at Duncan Aviation, and NetJets expects the entire retrofit program to be completed by mid-2014.
Bombardier Flexjet is again offering its Flexjet 25 jet card program, which is operated by U.S. air carrier Jet Solutions, for the holiday season. The 25-hour jet card pairs private jet travel with no-extra-cost travel benefits from Executive Golfer, Abercrombie & Kent, Lake Austin Spa Resort, Korean Air and Qatar Airways. The jet cards start at $100,000 and provide access to Flexjet’s Learjet or Challenger fleets, with the cost of each flight deducted from the debit card balance.
Signature Flight Support and NetJets broke ground today on a 10,000-sq-ft dedicated passenger terminal solely for NetJets customers at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida. The $13 million facility, which will open in the second half of next year, is being developed under a partnership between the FBO chain and fractional provider. Attending the event were Signature and NetJets executives, local elected officials and a half dozen students enrolled in the aviation program at the nearby Boynton Beach Community High School.
Avantair, the fractional-share operator of a fleet of 56 Piaggio Avanti twin turboprops, has adjusted its payscales to better match the rate of growth of management fees, company CEO Steve Santo told AIN. Management fees generally grow at the rate of the consumer price index (CPI), but raises during certain years were climbing faster than the CPI, making it difficult for Avantair to keep expenses in check.
Fractional provider Avantair has released “owner portal” applications for iOS, Blackberry and Android devices, allowing customers to book and view scheduled flights via smartphones and tablets. “Our mobile application allows customers more flexibility when traveling. They can now book flights, view their scheduled flights, view peak travel days and even change profile settings online by using mobile devices,” said Avantair CIO David Fitzgerald. “This is essential for our customer base since our clients are constantly on the go.”