A busy year for upheaval in the fractional ownership and closed-fleet private aviation sectors reached a crescendo in December when Flight Options parent company Directional Aviation Capital completed its $185 million acquisition of Bombardier’s Flexjet program.
NetJets will import its first two aircraft into China this month in anticipation of securing a Chinese air operator certificate (AOC) around the end of the first quarter of next year. The U.S. company will base a pair of its Hawker 800s in China so it can offer charter services to local clients. The main business model for Zhuhai-based NetJets-China Business Aviation Ltd. will be to provide aircraft management services.
NetJets expects to operate approximately 200 flights in and out of Florida’s Miami-Dade area this week for Art Basel in Miami Beach, a modern and contemporary art show. For the 12th year in a row, NetJets has partnered with the international show, allowing the fractional aircraft company to provide its customers with access to the entire event, including the preview opening. This year, NetJets plans to host more than 800 of its customers and their guests in an expanded, exclusive and private NetJets lounge in the collectors’ area of the show.
Revenue at Berkshire Hathaway’s “other services” business, which includes NetJets and FlightSafety International, grew by 9.4 percent in the third quarter, to $2.235 billion, thanks in large part to higher sales of fractional aircraft shares at NetJets. In the first nine months, revenue was up by 10.5 percent, to $6.649 billion.
Fractional jet share and charter companies from NetJets to JetSuite to Executive AirShare are choosing to stack their fleets with Cessna Citation jets, large and small, according to Brad Thress, senior vice-president of business jets for Cessna Aircraft Company (Booth No. C8843).
NetJets, the largest Citation Jet operator in the world with 50 Citation Xs in its fleet, is perhaps one of the clearest examples, Thress pointed out. NetJets has 25 Cessna Citation Latitudes on order and options for 125 more, all of which will begin deliveries in 2016.
NetJets “soft opened” its new 10,000-sq-ft dedicated passenger terminal solely for the fractional provider’s customers at Palm Beach (Fla.) International Airport last month, almost exactly a year after breaking ground on the facility. A formal grand opening is scheduled for November 6, but AIN was able to get a first look at the new complex just before the NBAA Convention this week.
Private aviation club Wheels Up has appointed a management team packed with business aviation pedigree. Last month’s announcement of 15 high-level appointments came as Beechcraft completed the initial build of the first of 105 King Air 350i aircraft that Wheels Up ordered in July.
Wheels Up CEO Kenny Dichter has recruited executives from NetJets’ Executive Jet Management subsidiary for his new private aviation club’s management team. Robert Garrymore, most recently EJM’s president, is now president for ventures at Wheels Up. Serving alongside him as executive v-p for ventures is Ronald Silverman, who was EJM’s senior v-p of aircraft management, sales and owner services.
Aircraft fractional ownership is a concept that has been slow to take hold in Latin America, most likely the result of an installed business aircraft customer base too small to support such an effort. But it is growing.
One of the more established fractional ownership programs in Latin America is MexJet, a business unit of long-time Mexican aviation services provider Aerolínas Ejecutivas.
A legal battle is under way between the nation’s largest private aviation provider and two of the major FBO chains over whether NetJets’ aircraft charter and management arm, Executive Jet Management, can require the chains to provide fuel discounts to aircraft owners and operators whose aircraft are not part of the company’s fully managed fleet.