It has been one year since one of the world’s largest industrial conglomerates, India’s Tata Sons, purchased a one-third share of Piaggio Aero Industries, joining Italy’s Ferrari and Di Mase families and Mubadala Development of Abu Dhabi, UAE, as a primary shareholder.
The fractional share marketplace is changing rapidly in response to the lengthy global recession. While most fractional operators already reduced staffing levels to match lower levels of customer activity, it wasn’t until September 11 that NetJets announced layoffs of 350 nonunion employees.
Business aircraft flight activity for Part 91 operators appears to have bottomed, according to data from Aviation Research Group/U.S. (ARG/US), while a similar recovery for Part 91K fractional and Part 135 charter operators appears not far behind. ARG/US’s TraqPak data shows business aircraft activity in August tracking “very closely” to July levels, though down slightly by 1 percent.
Greenjets shared business jet service between New York and Florida began last month, and service to Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington and Atlanta will be phased in before year-end. The service is sold per-seat but uses the existing fleet of ARG/US-rated charter aircraft. Over the next two years, Greenjets plans to open 27 more markets, including Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Even as other well-established and larger fractional ownership operations are quietly laying off employees and reducing aircraft delivery rates in response to the economic crisis, Avantair is hiring and adding to its fleet of 53 Avanti twin turboprops as quickly as Italian manufacturer Piaggio can deliver them.
As the larger fractional ownership operations lay off employees and/or reduce aircraft delivery rates, Clearwater, Fla.-based Avantair is watching its fleet of 53 Avantis and Avanti IIs grow as quickly as Italian manufacturer Piaggio can deliver them, with six more due before year-end.
BBA Aviation engine repair and overhaul company Dallas Airmotive and fractional ownership provider Avantair have signed a five-year engine maintenance agreement. Dallas Airmotive will provide repair, hot-section inspection, overhaul and field service on the PT6A-66 turboprop engines that power Avantair’s fleet of 50 Piaggio Avantis. The engines will be serviced at Dallas Airmotive’s Charlotte, N.C.
Piaggio has received three firm orders for the P.180 Avanti II twin turboprop–two from the United Arab Emirates military and another from Susi Air in Indonesia. The UAE air force will use its Avanti IIs for transportation of specialized staff and medical evacuation. An ambulance kit enables quick reconfiguration. The aircraft come with a complete integrated logistics support package, including training for pilots and maintenance technicians.
Clearwater, Fla.-based fractional provider Avantair reported another quarter of positive EBITA profits in a difficult economic environment, putting the Piaggio Avanti fleet operator on the path to health after years of losses. In its fiscal third quarter, which ended March 31, the company saw year-over-year revenues climb 15.7 percent to $34.7 million.
Piaggio Aero Industries’ new management team is still refusing to go public on long-rumored plans that it will launch a new jet program. At the same time, the Italian manufacturer has reported that production rates for the existing P.180 Avanti II twin pusherprop are holding up well in soft market conditions.