With the coming introduction of the Global Express into the Bombardier Flexjet fractional-ownership fleet, allocated usage will be based on days or hours, a departure from other fractional programs. A one-eighth share will provide up to 30 days or 125 hr a year and a half share entitles owners to 120 days or 500 hr.
The 843 pilots hired by six major fractional aircraft ownership companies in the first nine months of this year were about 30 percent fewer than the 1,210 frax pilots hired in the same period last year, according to employment tracking firm AIR. Nearly 1,400 frax pilots were hired during all of last year, compared with just 581 in 1999.
Bombardier’s Skyjet International executive aircraft charter program will be in safe hands with proposed new Swiss owner VistaJet, according to the Canadian aircraft manufacturer. Bob Horner, Bombardier’s senior v-p for sales, told EBACE Convention News that the proposed sale would provide a solid base for VistaJet and for operators of the aircraft involved.
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.
Bombardier’s new Flexjet Asia executive charter program began operations on February 22 in a bid to make business aviation more readily available to visiting Westerners and the continent’s indigenous business community.
Shell Aircraft International has signed a multi-year block-charter contract with Rainbow Jet of Beijing, China, under the auspices of Bombardier’s Flexjet Asia-Pacific program. The operator will use a pair of Challenger 604s to carry the oil company’s personnel throughout China, largely in support of pipeline work. The contract initially calls for 150 annual flight hours.
Competition in the fractional-ownership market is intense, and the players are constantly changing. Inevitably, as in any emerging market, those with the soundest, strongest and most aggressive business plan will likely expand and grow.
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.”
A former marketing executive at fractional aircraft provider Bombardier Flexjet has established Fractional Insider, a company that he promises will provide current and prospective share owners with objective information about the fractional industry. Initially, all services, except for a bi-monthly newsletter, will be fee-based, according to president and CEO Mike Riegel.
Nearly 88 percent of fractional aircraft owners rated their satisfaction of their respective programs at the two highest score levels and 22 percent said they intended to increase the number of their shares, according to a survey by Cincinnati-based Aviation Research Group/US (ARG/US). The company surveyed customers of NetJets, Bombardier Flexjet, Flight Options and the former Raytheon Travel Air (now rolled into Flight Options).