Data on the U.S. fractional share industry show that last year was extremely challenging for the big four fractional operators–NetJets, Flexjet, Flight Options and CitationAir–and for smaller but healthier Avantair.
Fractional provider Avantair reported revenues of $35.8 million for its fiscal year 2010 second quarter, which ended December 31. It recorded operating income of $1.4 million, versus an operating loss of $628,000 in the year-ago period, and earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization stood at $2.8 million.
Dubai Airshow shoppers looking to buy an aircraft made by a locally owned company need look no further than the Piaggio Avanti II. The eye-catching twin turbo-prop exudes the Italian style of its origins but Piaggio Aero Industries itself is exhibiting here under the auspices of its one-third shareholder Mubadala Development Co. of Abu Dhabi (Stand C510).
Piaggio Aero CEO Alberto Galassi yesterday confirmed that the company’s much anticipated, follow-on aircraft to the P.180 Avanti II turboprop would be a jet. “Definitely,” he said.
It has been one year since one of the world’s largest industrial conglomerates, India’s Tata Sons, purchased a one-third share of Piaggio Aero Industries, joining Italy’s Ferrari and Di Mase families and Mubadala Development of Abu Dhabi, UAE, as a primary shareholder.
The fractional share marketplace is changing rapidly in response to the lengthy global recession. While most fractional operators already reduced staffing levels to match lower levels of customer activity, it wasn’t until September 11 that NetJets announced layoffs of 350 nonunion employees.
Business aircraft flight activity for Part 91 operators appears to have bottomed, according to data from Aviation Research Group/U.S. (ARG/US), while a similar recovery for Part 91K fractional and Part 135 charter operators appears not far behind. ARG/US’s TraqPak data shows business aircraft activity in August tracking “very closely” to July levels, though down slightly by 1 percent.
Greenjets shared business jet service between New York and Florida began last month, and service to Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington and Atlanta will be phased in before year-end. The service is sold per-seat but uses the existing fleet of ARG/US-rated charter aircraft. Over the next two years, Greenjets plans to open 27 more markets, including Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Even as other well-established and larger fractional ownership operations are quietly laying off employees and reducing aircraft delivery rates in response to the economic crisis, Avantair is hiring and adding to its fleet of 53 Avanti twin turboprops as quickly as Italian manufacturer Piaggio can deliver them.
As the larger fractional ownership operations lay off employees and/or reduce aircraft delivery rates, Clearwater, Fla.-based Avantair is watching its fleet of 53 Avantis and Avanti IIs grow as quickly as Italian manufacturer Piaggio can deliver them, with six more due before year-end.