Fractionals Poised for Growth in 2006
The major U.S. fractional providers appear to be poised for growth this year, if estimates of pilot hiring and aircraft delivery intake are accurate. NetJets recently said it plans to hire 450 pilots this year, and New York-based analyst UBS Investment Research predicts that the New Jersey-based fractional provider will take delivery of 76 business jets by year-end. Dallas-based Bombardier Flexjet plans to hire 135 pilots in 2006, and a source close to the company said it will take delivery of 20 Learjets and Challengers this year. UBS estimates that Flight Options and CitationShares, which didn’t provide pilot-hiring expectations for 2006, will take delivery of five and 24 business jets, respectively. Avantair, which sells shares in Piaggio Avanti twin turboprops, told AIN that it plans to hire 80 to 100 pilots and take delivery of 24 Avanti IIs by year-end. Atlanta-based aviation employment consultant AIR Inc. projects that fractionals will hire 1,000 pilots this year.