While the major fractionals–with the exception of CitationShares–experienced flat or negative growth, smaller providers have really climbed strongly. Over the past year, the 16 minor players that AvData tracks have–at the expense of the major fractionals–increased their combined market share (measured by shares sold) from 3.6 percent to 5.6 percent, mostly due to gains at Fairfield, N.J.-based Avantair and Manchester, N.H.-based PlaneSense.
Although it is approaching its 20th birthday, the fractional aircraft industry is still very much mired in adolescence. It’s come a long way since NetJets chairman Richard Santulli invented the concept of fractional ownership and launched his program in 1986, but the industry still has a long uphill road ahead.
Avantair’s new owner, Alfred Rapetti, has clearly defined goals for the all-Avanti fractional provider. A retired investment banker with previous ties to aviation interests, Rapetti plans to further expand the company by offering “elite levels” of customer service, moving and expanding the corporate headquarters and steadily increasing the aircraft fleet.
As Piaggio Aero’s new Avanti II entered production last month, the company also announced it is increasing production to meet growing demand for the turboprop twin, but will it be enough?
Several executive changes at Flight Options have followed in the wake of Raytheon’s full acquisition of the Cleveland-based fractional provider in late December. Chief marketing officer Cameron Gowan is out, and company leader Michael Scheeringa is solidly in.
Piaggio Aero Industries is preparing to launch a jet program before year-end. The Italian airframer is debating which of two designs to take into development, but early last month it said it first had to reach agreement with a strategic partner it needs to make the project a reality.
Piaggio Avanti fractional provider Avantair is fast becoming a major player in the industry. While company CEO Steve Santo readily admits that Avantair isn’t a national program quite yet, “we’ll be there by the end of the year.”
Twenty years after its birth, the fractional concept is finally a mainstream part of the business aviation industry. It didn’t start out that way, and one need only look at the current chorus of very light jet air-limo naysayers to get an idea of how the business aviation community reacted to fractional aircraft ownership in 1986.
The Piaggio Avanti has received an FAA-approved handbook change for a 550-pound mtow increase. The new 12,100-pound mtow permits the twin turboprop to fly two crewmembers and as many as five passengers up to 1,440 nm, according to Avanti fractional operator Avantair. The new Avanti II incorporates the higher weight.