Private Jets: 4 Leaders in Fractional Flying

Fractional flying, you say. Is that division? Well, sort of. Fractional flying is where you, the customer, can own a "share" in a private jet. In most cases these shares allow you to own as much as 1/4 to as little as 1/32 of a 40 million dollar private jet. Where full ownership may be out of reach for you fractional ownership may be the best option to getting you in the air. Let's take a look at four companies offering fractional flying in the US.

1. Netjets. Richard Santulli is the brainchild behind modern fractional jet flying as he founded Netjets on this principle in 1986. The concept has grown from selling shares in a few jets to selling shares in sixteen different models. Indeed, aircraft much "cheaper" than a 40 million dollar jet can also be shared starting with the Hawker 400 XP and working up to a BBJ [Boeing Business Jet]. Santulli sold out to Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway in 1998, but he remains a key player with the company.

2. Flexjet. Not to be left out in the cold, Canadian aircraft maker, Bombardier, jumped into the fray with AMR Combs [parent company of American Airlines] and started Business JetSolutions. In 1997, Bombardier bought out AMR Comb's share and renamed the company Flexjet. Today, Flexjet customers can purchase shares in various Learjets [now owned by Bombardier] and Canadair [another Bombardier make] aircraft.

3. Flight Options. Raytheon Aircraft Company is the principle owner of Flight Options which was founded in 1998. Raytheon aircraft, which include various Hawker models, are some of the aircraft utilized in Flight Options's fleet. Other aircraft flown by Flight Options are the Embraer Legacy and the Citation X.

4. CitationShares. Launched in 2000 as a joint partnership between TAG Aviation, an aircraft management and operations company, and the Cessna Aircraft Company. CitationShares features three Citation models produced by aircraft manufacturer Cessna: the CJ1, the Bravo, and the Excel.

Other things to consider when purchasing your fractional share include the following:

1. Acquisition Cost. When you purchase your share, how long do you actually own that share? Is it renewable and for how much? Is there any additional outlay in capital for you during the time that you own a share?

2. Management Fees. Monthly charges will be billed separately and include: pilot salaries and training, storage [hangaring] of the aircraft, insurance, and support.

3. Hourly Fees. During the time you are actually flying -- and also for a predetermined amount of time before takeoff and after touching down -- you will be assessed hourly charges to cover catering, maintenance, fuel, and landing fees.

4. Taxes. Fuel surcharges, international taxes, and federal surcharge taxes will also be assessed.

Fractional flying presents to you, the customer, options that were previously available only to those who owned a private jet. If convenience, luxury, safety/security, and price are important to you than a share in a jet is an option worth exploring. The four featured operators are leaders in the industry and can provide for you more detailed information.

Matt Keegan writes on aviation issues and manages two important business aviation sites: http://aviationemploymentboard.net/forum and http://corporateflyer.net/forum

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