While the Covid-19 pandemic has affected all sectors of aviation, for some it has provided opportunities. Among them is fractional aircraft provider Jet It, which launched in 2018 and operates only HondaJet Elites.
With the small-to-midsize business jet segments seeing a stronger comeback due to the constraints on international travel and a renewed increase in private travel and the peace of mind it can afford, the company has seen growth. “We kind of consider now a very interesting time,” said company CEO and co-founder Glenn Gonzales. "Our business model affords the market that's looking for private means of travel, more autonomy, and more control. Especially in today's environment with the pandemic, our business model coupled with that market is a great opportunity."
Currently, the largest share the company will offer is a half, for $3 million. “We will not sell the whole airplane, we leave that to Honda,” said Gonzales, a Lieutenant Col. in the USAF reserves who previously served as the airframer’s regional sales manager for the Northeastern U.S. Other shares available range from the smallest of a tenth to a sixth, fifth, quarter, and third. "We've closed three shares in the last four weeks," said Gonzales.
Different than most fractional operators, Jet It uses days rather than hours in its accounting, with a half share equating to 130 days use of the aircraft and stepping down depending on the size of the share. “If you call us in advance when you want to fly, the airplane shows up with your crew,” Gonzales told AIN. “Essentially it's your airplane for the day—you can fly as many hours as we can squeeze into a normal crew duty day.”
The company’s research indicates its typical niche mission involves 2.7 passengers and an average flight time of 90 minutes. With HondaJets currently based in North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and Florida, Jet It’s operating model is predicated on the airplane returning to its base each night, offering its customers the ability to sleep in their own beds at the end of a day’s travel. That isn’t to say owners can’t use their shares for one-way travel. “If you so choose, there’s no reposition cost to come back and pick you up three or four days later,” said Gonzales.
In addition to a monthly maintenance fee to cover necessities such as insurance and Wi-Fi—which for a half share totals $13,000 monthly and is prorated for lesser shares—owners pay only the direct operating costs for the HondaJet, which currently tallies at $1,600 an hour, a price significantly lower than that for similar-sized aircraft.
Currently, Jet It’s fleet consists of five of the six-passenger light twinjets, four of which are fractionally-owned, while the fifth is leased. Gonzales confirmed it is currenty out of inventory and has a one-aircraft-per-five-owner ratio. When the aircraft are not required by their owner, Jet It is free to make them available through charter. Because of this, it expects to put approximately 800 flight hours a year on each aircraft. According to the company, by mid-June, it had already exceeded its charter quota for the month, while owner flying was increasing to approximately 70 percent of the pre-Covid-19 levels.
Headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, near the HondaJet factory, the company, which has a tagline of “Private, Fast, Smart,” has a firm order for 10 additional Elites and expects the next delivery in August. That aircraft will be based in the New York City area, the company said.
“Over the next couple of years, we anticipate that we will bring those airplanes on fairly quickly,” noted Gonzales, while describing plans for the remainder of 2020. “We should get another four here domestically and we are expanding into Canada.” Further expansion through sister-company JetClub into Southeast Asia has been delayed by the pandemic, but plans are to install a HondaJet there as soon as the crisis subsides.
Included in the owner package is concierge use, which can arrange for ground transportation via the company’s preferred and vetted vendor, and for meals to be delivered to the owner on the road from trusted caterers. “It’s essentially having your own executive assistant in house, and there is no additional charge for that,” said Gonzales.
He is especially proud of another unique benefit available through his company’s fractional plan. “Being a pilot and aviator myself, flying fighters to Gulfstreams and the HondaJet, it is important to me to also have an opportunity to offer our program to owner-pilots that may have an interest in transitioning and flying their own airplane,” Gonzales explained, adding such owners would still be responsible for their training and maintaining their medicals. “You have to fly with one of our captains on board, but it’s an opportunity to fly your own private jet.”