New ideas for business aviation take wing!
Even in troubled economic times, private aviation continues to flourish. In 2008, Fortune 100 companies spent more on private jets than in the five previous years, and although the new VAT tax proposed by the European Commission may threaten some operators and owners, business jet and aeronautic companies continue to forge ahead with new models of planes and operation (including the new supersonic private jet from Aerion Corporation, due to start flying in 2015). The Luxury Channel was in Geneva recently at EBACE, the premiere business aviation conference.
There are three main types of private jet ownership: full, fractional and a new type, the air taxi. Gulfstream provides jets to companies such as Delta and also sells directly to individual owners. Their new ultra-large G650 can reach Mach .90 and climb to 51,000 feet, avoiding commercial traffic, while the new G250 has the largest cabin and longest range in the super mid-size class. They expect to start customer deliveries of the G650 in the latter part of 2012.
NetJets, with over 150 planes, is the largest business jet company in Europe, and they fly their 1600 customers to more than 5000 airports worldwide. Their Owner Programme is based on fractional ownership, where owners purchase an interest, starting at 1/16 or 50 hours, and can use any plane in the fleet when available. NetJet also manages, operates and maintains the aircraft, plus all flight and ground crew support and scheduling.
A new way to fly privately is being introduced by Blink, the air taxi service. Their fleet will be made up of 30 Cessna Citation Mustangs, classed as Very Light Jets and which carry a maximum of four passengers. The planes’ range includes most of Europe and Scandanavia and they are able to land at over 600 airports, which gives business travellers the opportunity to make day trips without owning their own jet. Two types of fares are offered. With Blink Focus, passengers work on a pay-per-use scheme for walk-ups up to 21 days, whereas Blink Foresight is a shuttle fare, pre-pay scheme booked at a fixed rate. The more passengers booked, the lower the price, but fares range from about £2,000 to £4,000 (around the cost of a business class ticket).
The Future of Private Jets?
Supersonic passenger jet travel has gone the way of moon landings—technology no longer used, but still dreamed over. The supersonic private jet from Aerion Corporation aims to fill that gap with their supersonic business jet that can reach speeds of Mach 1.6. Currently in development, the jet will carry from up to 8 to 12 passengers and travel up to 4000 miles. Aerion is hoping to fly the first jet in 2012 and be certified by 2015. Each plane costs $80 million and so far customers from Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and India have proffered 50 letters of intent to buy an aircraft.