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Best of the Best 2007: Fractional-Ownership Programs

Michael Schulze

Bombardier Flexjet (800.353.9538, www.flexjet.com), the subsidiary of the manufacturer of Learjet and Challenger aircraft, is adding customers at a healthy clip: Share sales rose 12 percent last year. The company attributes this partly to an on-time performance record of about 95 percent for all flights, including those delayed by bad weather. In addition, in an industry where operators sometimes must charter jets from other firms to meet demand at peak travel times, the company guarantees that owners will fly on Flexjet-owned aircraft at least 95 percent of the time. The fleet, which consists entirely of Bombardier aircraft, includes the Learjet 40XR, 45XR, and 60XR; the midsize Challenger 300; and the long-range, wide-body Challenger 604 and 605. Prices range from about $541,000 for a one-sixteenth share (50 hours per year) of a Learjet 40XR to about $13.4 million for a one-half share (400 hours) of a Challenger 605.

CitationShares (203.861.9667, www.citationshares.com), a joint venture of Cessna Aircraft Co. and TAG Aviation (see here), offers shares in three Cessna Citation jets: the six-passenger CJ3, the eight-passenger XLS, and the nine-passenger Sovereign. The fleet numbers about 80 aircraft, making the company the fourth-largest player in the industry. A one-sixteenth share (50 hours per year) in a CJ3 costs $445,500, while a one-half share (400 hours) in a Sovereign goes for about $7.8 million. To simplify the program, a feature called Citelines combines all management and operating expenses for a year into one payment or 12 monthly ones. It also offers cost savings to owners who fly on fewer days of peak demand (such as those around Thanksgiving and Christmas).

XOJet (650.594.6300, www.xojet.com), launched in January 2006 in California’s Silicon Valley, offers a hybrid program in which it sells a whole jet or half a share of one to a customer and then, as in the fractional model, gives the purchaser access to its entire fleet. It also charters out jets that are not in use at a particular time or ones that are flying deadhead legs (trips required to reposition a jet, with no customer aboard). This additional revenue helps to offset some of the company’s operating costs, and these savings are passed on to the share owners. To gain efficiencies, the company operates only new, eight-seat Citation Xs. XOJet prices a whole share (as many as 800 annual flight hours) of a Citation X at about $20 million; a half share (as many as 400 hours) costs about $10 million. The company claims a 99 percent on-time departure rate.

PlaneSense (800.603.5937, www.planesense.aero), which is managed by Manchester, N.H.–based Alpha Flying, sells shares in the six-passenger Pilatus PC-12. The turboprop is much less expensive to operate than a similarly sized jet and can land at about 9,000 U.S. airports, compared to about 5,000 for jets. It has a range of 2,602 miles, reaches a top cruise speed of 310 mph, and can fly as high as 30,000 feet. PlaneSense offers a one-quarter share (180 annual hours) in a PC-12 for about $952,000; a one-eighth share (90 hours) costs half that.

Florida-based Avantair (973.227. 4666, www.avantair.com) flies only the seven-passenger Piaggio Avanti P.180 twin turboprop, a striking-looking plane that is the fastest, most fuel-efficient, and roomiest in its class. The aircraft can fly about 1,660 miles and cruises faster than 450 mph. Ownership options range from a one-sixteenth share (50 hours) at $415,000 to a one-half share (400 hours) for $3.24 million.

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