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.
Fractional ownership operator CitationShares has officially launched its Vector JetCard program, allowing individuals and companies to pre-pay for 25 hours of private flight time on CitationShares-operated aircraft.
Operators who own a share of a fractional aircraft are to be given the same Cape Town Treaty protection as sole owners have had since March 2006. They are to be included in the International Registry of Mobile Assets (IRMA), which provides a single universal point of reference and record, and was set up under the treaty (which comprises the Cape Town Convention and the related Protocol on Aircraft Assets).
Fractional provider CitationShares yesterday announced three new programs for its customers–Preferred Positioning, Caribbean Express and Vector Value Plus. The Preferred Positioning program allows customers to book and purchase–at a steep discount–positioning (deadhead) flights on CitationShares aircraft. Through the program, CitationShares customers will receive a daily e-mail at around 6:30 p.m.
One year after CitationShares introduced its Vector jet card, the fractional provider has curtailed sales to “not exceed the capacity to fulfill” charter and owner flights. “We have reached the capacity we targeted way earlier than expected,” according to CitationShares president and CEO Steve O’Neill. “We expected a renewal rate of about 35 percent, but about 75 percent of cardholders are renewing.
With the exception of Bombardier Flexjet, 13 major and minor players in the fractional industry continued their growth cycle last year, according to Wichita-based AvData. Total net shares last year surged past 6,200, up 6.7 percent from 2002. During the same period, the fractional turbine fleet grew 6.1 percent–to more than 800 aircraft.
The four major fractional aircraft operators hired 482 pilots last year compared with 198 in 2003, bringing the total roster of fractional pilots to 3,649 last year, according to aviation hiring firm AIR in Atlanta.
The five major fractional operators fell short of AIR’s projected pilot hiring levels last year, according to statistics prepared by the Atlanta-based aviation employment consultant. The major players–Avantair, CitationShares, Flexjet, Flight Options and NetJets–hired 674 new pilots, more than 300 shy of AIR’s January 2006 estimate that 1,000 pilots would be required.
CitationShares launched a program–Citelines–that it says offers “payment predictability, customized program options and cost savings never before seen in the industry.” Citelines’ customers can “save tens of thousands of dollars” by choosing to fly on non-peak days. Under Citelines, owners can choose to fly 365 days, 350 days, 335 days or 320 days a year.
More than 20 years ago, fractional jet ownership began with NetJets and then expanded rapidly in the late 1990s with the growth of Raytheon Travel Air and Flight Options (now just Flight Options, which is wholly owned by Raytheon), Bombardier’s Flexjet and the Cessna/ TAG Aviation CitationShares joint venture, among others.