One prediction about which most fractional providers’ executives and consultants agree is that within five years there will be only two strong major providers, with the current majors either being relegated to a niche market or merging into one of the stronger players. While they all concur that NetJets will be one of those two companies, there is no consensus on which of the other three majors will hold the other spot.
Most of the fractional executives interviewed for this article were not optimistic that very light jets (VLJs) will enter the fractional fleet.
Forecast International of Newtown, Conn., released its most recent 10-year outlook, The World Market for Business Jet Aircraft, at the Farnborough Air Show last month.
Thirty years ago, most people would have dismissed anyone who said they’d eventually make money by selling bottled water, especially since tap water was, and still is, plentiful and nearly free. But since then, a lot of people have actually traded tap water for bottled water, resulting in skyrocketing sales of the clear liquid in plastic bottles.
Holders of the Marquis Jet Card will have new restrictions requiring that they book flights further in advance during peak travel times due to unexpected growth in flying hours by NetJets share owners over the last year, according to NetJets chairman Richard Santulli. Marquis flights are operated under Part 135 by NetJets, or NetJets-approved charter operators, and Marquis owns about 10 percent of the NetJets’ fleet.
Fractional-ownership provider NetJets has placed an order for 50 AirCell ST 3100 Iridium satellite communication systems for its growing fleet of Raytheon Hawker 400XP light business jets.
The satellite phone systems will be installed at Raytheon Aircraft Services in San Antonio before aircraft delivery. A spokeswoman for Woodbridge, N.J.-based NetJets said the fractional operator expects the first 400XP delivery this month.
Although foreign operators are unhappy over the complications they face in obtaining clearances to fly non-U.S.-registered into the U.S., in general the post-9/11 security rules are not insurmountable.
NetJets Europe tapped Signature Flight Support as its Europe-wide “preferred handler.” The agreement covers Signature FBOs in Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, South Africa and the UK. NetJets Europe shareowners can still use any FBO or handler that they choose. “It’s not an exclusive agreement,” explained a Signature spokesman.
The UK’s Marshall Aerospace and NetJets Europe are expanding their agreement for support of the fractional’s Citation fleet. Marshall said it is spending £5 million ($9.9 million) to extend its facilities and add new services to its Cambridge base to support the Citations. The company’s new hangar and FBO will offer 24-hour service and support to NetJets, with an MRO capability and access to an expanded spares inventory.
The new owners of Hawker Beechcraft are starting on a high note. The company announced greatly improved first-quarter earnings last month, with net sales in the first quarter of this year up 32.3 percent from the same period a year ago, to $667.8 million. Hawker Beechcraft delivered 60 turbine aircraft in the first three months of this year, placing it second overall in terms of units shipped.