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.
“The ShAirForceOne program will deliver the ultimate corporate flight experience with respect to safety, security, comfort and productivity,” Art Brown, president of New York City-based ShAirForce, told AIN. “And we’re doing it at a price that is competitive with both the airlines and other fractional programs.”
Piaggio Avanti fractional provider Avantair is narrowing its losses and on course to reach profitability in the near future, company CEO Steven Santo said yesterday during a quarterly investor conference. In the first three months of this year, the Clearwater, Fla.-based operator increased its year-over-year revenues by 51 percent, to $29.9 million, and decreased its net loss by $2 million, to $5.4 million.
Executive Jet is holding a vendor forum for its NetJets Europe fractional aircraft ownership program at this month’s European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition in Geneva. NetJets will use the meeting, to be held on May 29, to brief existing and prospective vendors on its objectives and required service standards.
With the consummation of the Flight Options/Raytheon Travel Air merger on March 21, the fractional ownership business is “a two-horse race between Flight Options and NetJets, relegating the other providers to boutique markets.” So says Flight Options CEO Kenn Ricci, characteristically confident in the future of the frax operator he founded in 1998.
HeliSolutions, the fractional helicopter provider in São Paulo, Brazil, has started a fractional jet company called JetSolutions, according to HeliSolutions president Allan Paiotti. Operating partners in JetSolutions include TAM (the distributor for Cessna in Brazil), Embraer and Swift Aviation Group of the U.S., the launch customer for Embraer’s Legacy business jet.
“It was definitely our second choice, but it turned out to be a good one.” That’s how corporate air transport manager Rich Sismour characterized GE’s move to Stewart International Airport (SWF) in Newburgh, N.Y., from Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, N.Y.
It will probably be another six months before the FAA issues its final rule to regulate fractional aircraft ownership operations under new Part 91 Subpart K and to amend existing Part 135 rules for on-demand charter flights. The comment period for the proposed rule ended in November last year, but the FAA only just signed off last month on the final version and sent it to the DOT.
It’s nearly as certain as death and taxes. As soon as a manufacturer introduces a new airplane, NetJets announces orders. Last month’s NBAA Convention was no exception. The Columbus, Ohio-based fractional jet operator placed orders (including options) for 200 of the newest business jets introduced in Orlando, Fla., by Cessna and Gulfstream, transactions that have a potential value of nearly $2 billion.
Fractional aircraft owners who were assured five years ago–when business aviation was booming–that their shares would retain 75 to 80 percent of their value are discovering to their dismay that those shares have in some cases retained as little as 50 percent of the original worth. “It’s the first real test of the fractional-ownership system,” said one observer, “and some of the share owners aren’t liking what they’re seeing.”