In the first eight months of this year, the top five fractional operators hired more pilots than they did in all of last year, according to aviation job placement firm AIR of Atlanta. NetJets, Flight Options, Flexjet, CitationShares and Avantair hired 498 pilots through August this year versus 482 for all of last year.
A new European fractional ownership program that will begin operations this month is offering shares in pre-owned Cessna Citation CJ1s. UK-based European Business Jets (EBJ) was launched through a $3.7 million share flotation on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM small companies market in April. It expects to operate a fleet of five CJ1s by year-end and to double that number by the end of next year.
Ever since the FAA issued its final rule on “Regulation of Fractional Aircraft Ownership Programs and On-demand Operations” known as Part 91, Subpart K [which took effect in the U.S. in February–Ed.] in September 2003, business aviation associations on both sides of the Atlantic have been trying to harmonize regulatory standards for fractional ownership operations.
Cleveland-based fractional operator Flight Options is now offering an optional extended service program for new owners that covers flights to Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Another new option includes applying part of the cost of the company’s JetPass card toward the purchase of a fractional share.
All of the major providers have jet-card programs: NetJets has Marquis, Flight Options has JetPass, CitationShares has Vector and Flexjet has Premier Fleet. It should be noted that the Marquis program is unique among the card programs because it is run by an outside party that buys shares in NetJets aircraft and resells blocks of time in them. The other three fractional providers administer their respective jet-card programs themselves.
Although it is approaching its 20th birthday, the fractional aircraft industry is still very much mired in adolescence. It’s come a long way since NetJets chairman Richard Santulli invented the concept of fractional ownership and launched his program in 1986, but the industry still has a long uphill road ahead.
It is tempting to subscribe to the stereotypical view that if you need to ask how much business aviation costs then it isn’t for you. But Bookajet.com thinks that perspective is fundamentally wrong.
The U.S. DOT’s unwillingness to ease unpopular restrictions on foreign charter operators flying into the U.S. is jeopardizing moves on the other side of the Atlantic to reform rules covering fractional ownership.
It’s one thing to find a new way of doing business. It’s quite another to make it work. Paul Touw, founder and CEO of Xojet (pronounced exojet) in San Carlos, Calif., believes he has done both.
In a recent letter to the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it has “begun the process of developing and instituting a security oversight and monitoring program for fractional ownership aircraft.” The letter was the latest correspondence between the TSA and ECAC about the European organization’s concerns about the security aspects of fractional operations.