Executive Jet Aviation owner and CEO Richard Santulli brought the fractional-ownership concept to the business aviation community in the mid-1980s. Santulli created a program called NetJets, selling aircraft in shares ranging from 1/16ths to halves.
Avolar, the budding stand-alone fractional business jet division of UAL Corp., stepped up its launch effort last month with a pair of new aircraft orders–despite a current economy that has other fractional providers turning to new marketing tactics. To boot, the Avolar business plan is ahead of schedule. Avolar president Stuart Oran said at the NBAA Convention in New Orleans last month, “We are now operational.
With the consummation of the Flight Options/Raytheon Travel Air merger on March 21, the fractional ownership business is “a two-horse race between Flight Options and NetJets, relegating the other providers to boutique markets.” So says Flight Options CEO Kenn Ricci, characteristically confident in the future of the frax operator he founded in 1998.
Insight into the competitive performances of FlightSafety International and Executive Jet can be found in a candid and personal letter by Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett to shareholders in his company. In the midst of the financial data, he singles out the leaders of these two divisions, Al Ueltschi and Richard Santulli.
NetJets owner Warren Buffett told The Wall Street Journal he expects fractional sales will double in Europe to 200 shareowners this year, although he said the enterprise will still lose money this year. To help reach that goal, Buffett hosted several meetings last summer in Europe to convince guests that buying a share of a NetJets aircraft makes good business sense.
NetJets will remain in Columbus, Ohio, despite fierce competition from cities such as Raleigh, N.C.; Orlando, Fla.; and Fort Worth, Texas. CEO Richard Santulli said the fractional provider will create a $200 million campus that will include a new FlightSafety training facility and will more than double the size of NetJets’ current facility. Santulli expects at least another 800 jobs will be created.
The direct reports from Jet Aviation concerning its “for sale” status do not reveal much in the way of hard news. At least not yet. A spokesman confirmed the company has engaged New York investment house Goldman Sachs to handle the possible sale of the, family-owned company.
Paul Touw had barely finished high school when his entrepreneurial spirit started paying dividends. Enrolled at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., and short on tuition funds, he noticed that the physics department lacked good lab books.
Speaking yesterday at the fractional provider’s Port Columbus (Ohio) Airport operations center, NetJets CEO Richard Santulli ended months of speculation by announcing that the company will be staying put in the Buckeye State. Despite fierce competition from cities such as Raleigh, N.C.; Orlando, Fla.; and Fort Worth, Texas, in the end NetJets decided to expand its existing facility in Columbus rather than relocate.
NetJets Europe is targeting fast-expanding Russian businesses for its fractional-ownership program. It has dropped the ferry charges that have previously been applied for flights out of Moscow and St. Petersburg to allow Russian clients the same terms and conditions as provided to program members in western Europe.