Half-year financial results published yesterday by charter broker Air Partner confirm the widespread perception that the business aircraft charter sector has taken a big hit from the global financial crisis. The UK-based group’s total sales (also including passenger airliner and freight charters) for the six-month period ending on Jan.
As the liquidation process for the assets of bankrupt Eclipse Aviation drags on, four groups have announced proposals to buy those assets and restart product support and in some cases production for the orphaned Eclipse 500 very light jet. There may be Chinese interest in bidding on the Eclipse assets, too.
Two of the six people arrested and charged in connection with the 2005 Platinum Jet Management Challenger 600 crash at Teterboro (N.J.) Airport entered not-guilty pleas last Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. Joseph Singh, director of charters, and Brien McKenzie, director of maintenance, were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Newark.
As happens in every significant downturn, corporate squeamishness about owning business jets climbs while used aircraft languish on brokers’ ramps. Already during this recession, the stigma against the perceived appropriateness of traveling by business jet has forced companies to cancel new jet orders, sell jets and even close entire flight departments.
European very light jet charter service Blink has launched what it claims to be business aviation’s first frequent-flier program. Through BlinkFocus, customers can bank 10 percent of the value of their charter bookings made at “full fare” rates to use for subsequent flights. There is no limit to the amount of credit that can be accrued and it never expires, according to the company.
Four years after a Challenger 600 operated by Platinum Jet Management crashed on takeoff from Teterboro Airport, resulting in a major FAA investigation of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based charter operator and a subsequent civil penalty assessment of more than $1.86 million, six individuals associated with the now-defunct firm have been indicted on charges ranging from conspiracy to making false statements.
Farnborough, UK-based air-taxi service Blink recently took delivery of three more Cessna Citation Mustangs and now has four of the very light jets in service and another 26 on order, with five more due to arrive by October. Blink’s contract with Cessna calls for a total of 45 Mustangs, which includes firm orders for 30 and options on 15.
The market for very light jets (VLJs) is set to take a significant dip as recession sweeps across Western economies, according to PMI Media. The firm’s latest study–The Very Light Jet Market 2008-17: The impact of the global financial crisis–predicts that 4,610 VLJs worth $9.54 billion will be delivered over this 10-year period.
When he bought Profile Aviation on Hickory Airport in North Carolina in August 2007, Riverhawk Aviation chairman and CEO Cal Humphrey saw an opportunity to offer maintenance services for older aircraft on the eastern seaboard. At the time, he was operating a company in San Antonio called Riverhawk Aviation that bought and sold aircraft and parts.
The VLJ era started with a bang on March 6, 2000, when Eclipse Aviation announced the formal launch of the Eclipse 500, a program “designed to apply technological breakthroughs in creating a series of safe, reliable, low-cost jet aircraft that will enable transformation of the U.S. air transportation system.”