Avolar, the “stand alone” UAL Corp. subsidiary created in April to launch a new business aviation venture, has declared that despite the September 11 terrorist attacks and their devastating impact on America’s aviation industry, “Our business plan is unchanged; however, Avolar is now seeking equity investors to share the burden of funding.” Avolar was originally created as United BizJet Holdings.
It was a challenge. A big one, admittedly, but as Stuart Oran discovered, much bigger than originally envisioned.
Avolar, the budding stand-alone fractional business jet division of UAL Corp., stepped up its launch effort last month with a pair of new aircraft orders–despite a current economy that has other fractional providers turning to new marketing tactics. To boot, the Avolar business plan is ahead of schedule. Avolar president Stuart Oran said at the NBAA Convention in New Orleans last month, “We are now operational.
This year will be one of the best that Dassault has ever had with its Falcon business jets. As of late October, the French manufacturer had chalked up firm orders for 112 Falcons and taken options for another 101, smashing last year’s record of firm orders for 90 Falcons.
Avolar, the newly formed business aviation subsidiary of UAL Corp., reached an agreement with Airbus to market and/or manage, but not buy, up to 15 Airbus Corporate Jetliners under a program to be operated separately from Avolar’s fractional-ownership program for smaller business jets. Terms also permit Avolar customers to purchase an ACJ. The executive twinjets will be crewed by mainline United Airlines pilots.
The demise of Avolar before it really got started is not an omen for the fractional aircraft provider industry. Introduced with much fanfare a year ago, Avolar was barely off the ground when its parent, UAL Corp., pulled back the power and shut off the fuel. Avolar failed for the most part because it wasn’t able to muster the significant upfront investment needed to launch a fractional operation, not because the fractional market is waning.
Deliveries of Gulfstream business jets in the first quarter were down slightly compared with the same period a year ago, but the firm’s first-quarter order backlog of $6.4 billion was an increase of $900 million from last year. Gulfstream said it delivered 15 green GIV-SPs and GVs (vs 18 in the first quarter last year) and 10 finished G100s and G200s (the same as last year’s first quarter).
At its Saint-Cloud headquarters near Paris, Dassault began presenting its 2001 results with military precision at 9 a.m. sharp on March 6. This was almost ironic as the manufacturer, still famous for its Mirage and Rafale fighters, confirmed its main business is now Falcon business jets, which accounted for 76 percent of last year’s revenues.
Little more than a week after halting efforts to find outside investors for a majority share in its Avolar business aviation venture, United Airlines parent UAL Corp. pulled the plug entirely on March 22 and announced it is closing down the Chicago-based subsidiary.
Gulfstream Aerospace has filed a motion asking the Chicago Cook County Circuit Court to dismiss a United BizJet Holdings lawsuit or stay all proceedings on the grounds that the litigation was filed in violation of “alternate dispute resolution” (ADR) agreements between the two companies.
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