As he does every year in his annual report, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett gave his frank and folksy description of how his company’s many holdings performed in the previous year, including FlightSafety International and NetJets.
The business-jet fractional-ownership fleet continues to grow at a phenomenal rate and now accounts for more than 60 percent of total industry backlog, reflecting falling orders from traditional customers. The situation leaves major U.S. manufacturers heavily exposed; indeed, so important have fractional sales become that Bombardier, Gulfstream, Cessna and Raytheon are all involved in such programs.
Due to increasing customer demand, fractional aircraft provider NetJets Europe yesterday said it has worked with aircraft manufacturers to accelerate delivery of 39 new business jets worth more than $715 million.
When Richard Santulli sold three fractional shares in a business aircraft in 1986, people snickered. Ten years later, NetJets had sold 1,551 shares and Santulli was the one left laughing. Today, NetJets has company in the fractional-ownership industry, an industry that now represents 5,827 fractional shares. Even with the current economic slump, last year’s new share sales were up by 17 percent over the tally for 2001.
Flight Options, the second-largest fractional operator behind NetJets, and Raytheon Aircraft Services (RAS) reached an agreement in which RAS will provide all maintenance for the operator’s entire fleet. RAS will dedicate additional facilities for Flight Options maintenance, and all Flight Options mechanics will become RAS employees.
According to research from AvData, Amstat and ARG/US, Cleveland, Ohio-based Flight Options had a share-owner increase of 20.5 percent (from 541 owners to 652 owners) between December 31 last year through June 30 this year, the largest percentage increase of four major fractional aircraft ownership providers (including NetJets, Flexjet and Travel Air). As of last June, Flight Options had a 16-percent share of the owner market.
NetJets Services has chosen Rockwell Collins to provide avionics maintenance repair and technical support on its fleets of Gulfstream G200s and Raytheon Hawker 400XPs. Under two separate 10-year agreements, Collins Aviation Services will provide NetJets with forward exchange avionics support.
The economy is recovering more quickly than some experts predicted, though not as robustly as expected. The pre-owned aircraft market is busier following a dismal year; it’s more of a buyers market now; business jet depreciation is typically 2 to 4 percent per year; and capital equipment loan interest rates are the lowest in 40 years.
NetJets aircraft will fly 300,000 occupied hours this year, chairman and CEO Richard Santulli told reporters during ceremonies in Columbus, Ohio, to announce a rebranding that changed the company name from Executive Jet Inc. to NetJets Inc. Citing confusion among the press, prospects and customers, Santulli noted that “changing our corporate name to NetJets Inc.
Recently established Marquis Jet Partners of New York City has purchased shares in several NetJets’ fractional-ownership aircraft and is marketing prepaid, 25-hr block-charter times to Marquis card holders on these aircraft, which will be operated by NetJets under its Part 135 certificate. Aircraft initially in the program include the Citation X, Ultra, and Excel, the Hawker 800XP and the Falcon 2000.