Jet It branded HondaJet
Founded in 2018, fractional HondaJet operator Jet It is seeing growth, and expects to triple its fleet of HondaJet Elites to 15 over the next few years. (Photo: Jet It)

Niche Fractional Provider Sees COVID Silver Lining

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided challenges for all sectors of aviation, but it has also offered opportunities to some businesses. Among this latter group is fractional aircraft provider Jet It, which launched in 2018 and operates only HondaJet Elites.

With the small-to-midsize business jet segments seeing a stronger comeback due to the constraints on international travel and a renewed appreciation for the safety of private travel, the company has seen growth. “We kind of consider now a very interesting time,” said company CEO and cofounder Glenn Gonzales. "Our business model affords the market that's looking for private means of travel more autonomy and more control."

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Currently, the largest share the company will offer is a half, for $3 million. “We will not sell the whole airplane—we leave that to Honda,” said Gonzales, a lieutenant colonel in the USAF reserves who previously served as the airframer’s regional sales manager for the Northeastern U.S. Other shares available include a tenth, a sixth, a fifth, a quarter, and a third. "We've closed three shares in the last four weeks," said Gonzales.

Unlike most fractional operators, Jet It uses days rather than hours in its accounting, with a half share equating to 130 days. “If you call us in advance of when you want to fly, the airplane shows up with your crew,” Gonzales told BJT. “Essentially it's your airplane for the day—you can fly as many hours as we can squeeze into a normal crew duty day.”

The company’s research indicates that its typical mission involves 2.7 passengers and an average flight time of 90 minutes. With HondaJets based in North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and Florida, Jet It employs an operating model predicated on the airplane returning to its base each night. That isn’t to say owners can’t use their shares for one-way trips: “If you so choose, there’s no reposition cost to come back and pick you up three or four days later,” said Gonzales.

In addition to a monthly maintenance fee to cover necessities such as insurance and Wi-Fi—for a half share, expenses total $13,000 monthly—owners pay only the direct operating costs for the HondaJet, which currently total $1,600 an hour.

Currently, Jet It’s fleet consists of five of the six-passenger light twinjets, four of which are fractionally owned, while the fifth is leased. Gonzales confirmed that his company is currently out of inventory and has a one-aircraft-per-five-owner ratio. When owners don't require their aircraft, Jet It is free to make them available for charter. Because of this, it expects to put approximately 800 flight hours a year on each aircraft. According to the company, by mid-June, it had already exceeded its charter quota for the month, while owner flying was increasing to approximately 70 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels.

Headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, near the HondaJet factory, the company has a firm order for 10 additional Elites and expects the next one to be delivered in August. That aircraft will be based in the New York City area, the company said.

“Over the next couple of years, we anticipate that we will bring those airplanes on fairly quickly,” noted Gonzales. “We should get another four here domestically, and we are expanding into Canada.” Further growth through sister company JetClub into Southeast Asia has been delayed by the pandemic, but plans are to install a HondaJet there as soon as the crisis subsides.

Included in the owner package is a concierge service, which can arrange for ground transportation via the company’s preferred and vetted vendor, and for meals to be delivered to the owner on the road from trusted caterers. “There is no additional charge for that [concierge],” said Gonzales.

He is especially proud of another benefit available through his company’s fractional plan. “Being a pilot and aviator myself," said Gonzales, "it is important to me to also offer our program to owner-pilots that may have an interest in transitioning and flying their own airplane. He said that such owners would be responsible for their own training and for maintaining their medicals and added, “You have to fly with one of our captains on board, but it’s an opportunity to fly your own private jet.”

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