The new Global Executive Helicopter Network (GEHN) began operations on May 1 as a transatlantic alliance of helicopter charter providers. The program has been launched by Sikorsky’s Associated Aircraft Group (AAG) subsidiary, which operates 10 S-76s in the northeastern U.S.
NetJets Europe has become the first operator permitted to fly the Falcon 7X trijet into London City Airport (LCY), which requires special approval for the downtown airfield’s 5.5-deg steep approach. The fractional ownership provider last year flew nearly 5,000 flights to and from the airport, making London City the fourth most popular destination in the operator’s fleet.
VistaJet is slowing the implementation of its ambitious growth plans in the charter market but insists that its ambition to solidify its position as the number two service provider outside North America still stands. This year the company will take delivery of less than half of the 12 to 14 new aircraft it had been due to take, and it has adjusted its target of having a 100-strong fleet of jets by 2012 operating some 80,000 flight hours.
New European fractional ownership provider Jet Republic says it is capitalizing on the downturn in both air transport and business aviation. The company, which in September is due to take delivery of the first of up to 110 Bombardier Learjet 60XRs for which it has orders and options, said it is receiving more inquiries than it had anticipated from people who previously owned their own aircraft.
A UK-based broker is seeking to capitalize on surplus capacity among Cessna Citation Mustang operators by offering a variety of fractional ownership and per-seat on-demand charter packages in the airplane.
Fractional aircraft providers have reshaped their marketing efforts to address the difficulty of trying to get customers to buy aircraft shares during a recession. To help stimulate growth, Flexjet has introduced a fly-away lease program, which lets buyers who might not want to make a capital purchase lease a fractional share and exit the lease at any time with 90 days’ notice and with no penalty.
Fractional ownership provider NetJets and its pilots union have collaborated on a voluntary furlough-mitigation program in an attempt to reduce the threat of crew job cuts in the face of reduced flying demand.
As the recession tightens its grip on the economy, fractional aircraft providers have stepped up their marketing efforts not only to sell more shares but also to encourage shareowners to fly more. “In this tough economy, the pressures on all parts of the aviation business have been extreme,” said Bob Knebel, Flexjet v-p of sales.
Boston-based charter broker Magellan Jets last month launched its Voyager Program, which entitles members to guaranteed hourly rates on various aircraft; a scheduled departure guarantee (or a 10-percent discount on the traveler’s next flight); three aircraft upgrades per year; concierge service; and one-way and round-trip pricing.
Aircraft fractional shares operator NetJets Europe has recruited Foster+Partners, the firm of Pulitzer prize-winning architect Lord Norman Foster, to design the interior for 33 Falcon 7Xs to be delivered to NetJets over the next eight years. The interior is created from a “holistic perspective” and zoned into distinctive passenger space and a crew work area.