“Ride-sharing, in the old days, was everyone hopping in the VW bus to see [the Grateful Dead’s] Jerry [Garcia]. Now it’s about getting a seat on a King Air 350i ”
NetJets Europe Formally Launches Aircraft Management Business
Fractional ownership giant NetJets Europe is diversifying into aircraft management.
NetJets Aircraft Management has been established as a separate operation and will soon have its own air operator’s certificate (AOC), according to sales director Marine Eugene. The company will focus on large-cabin and long-range business jets, from the size of the Dassault Falcon 2000 upwards.
Management services will include flight planning, hangarage and maintenance. NetJets is also taking care of crew hiring and training, but Eugene made it clear that its fractional fleet crew will not operate managed aircraft, and vice versa. The company will charge a monthly management fee based on a projected number of annual flight hours.
Owners of NetJets-managed aircraft will be given the option to make them available for the fractional business, which will give NetJets additional capacity without requiring it to buy airplanes.
According to Eugene, this isn’t the main goal of the new venture, which primarily offers a way to engage with prospective customers who wish to join the fractional ownership program but aren’t in a position to do so. “Some aircraft owners tell us they wish they had not bought their jet [and that] they’d like to sell it, but market conditions are difficult right now. We don’t want to cut this conversation,” she explained.
Managed aircraft will be based at owners’ preferred locations. NetJets will advise customers on the number of crew they need, depending on how often and how far they fly. Customers will benefit from NetJets’ negotiated prices for fuel and other aspects of its service.
The company will manage only aircraft types that it already operates. It also is giving priority to types that are most in demand in the fractional sector: the Falcon 2000 and 7X, Gulfstream G550 (in photo) and Global 6000. Finally, it may welcome a smaller aircraft like a Cessna Citation Bravo if the owner, in addition to inking a management contract, buys a share in a fractional program.
NetJets has long been in the management business in the U.S., and in Europe it already has a handful of aircraft under management contracts. For the next 12 months, managed aircraft will operate under its existing Portugal-based AOC, which should change when the second AOC comes on line.
NetJets Europe currently has more than 130 aircraft in its fractional ownership fleet. It expects to add long-range Bombardier Global 6000s beginning late this year or early next year. It will also add Embraer Phenom 300 light jets, though the delivery schedule for those isn’t yet firm.
Last year the company closed its NetJets Middle East venture, but in March it announced plans to launch management and charter services in China. So what’s happening to fractional ownership? “Fractional is still very much here,” replied Eugene. “The ongoing downturn is making its benefits even clearer; the possibility to buy a share is such a powerful argument against buying the whole aircraft. Many of our customers are increasingly traveling to emerging countries, compared to four years ago. Today’s economy validates the model.”