US fractional ownership company Avantair is looking to expand its Piaggio Avanti-based programme into China, India, Latin America and South America. It says a new venture could be operational in at least one of these regions by the end of the year.
"We have conducted extensive research into each of these markets," says Avantair chief executive Steve Santo. "It was crucial to establish whether we could meet the expectations of potential buyers within the current infrastructure. We looked at city pairs within each of the target countries to establish if the Avanti II is viable both in terms of range, cost and performance. The aircraft is a perfect fit."
Avantair is in discussions with established operators with which it plans to establish partnerships in each region. "There are plenty of companies, but choosing the right one is critical," says Santo. One of the potential partners in India is Piaggio distributor, service centre and charter operator Taj Air. The Mumbai-based company is also a subsidiary of one of Piaggio's primary shareholders, Tata Industries.
"Our typical customer will be the first-time business aircraft users - people who typically fly first class - so company brand and experience is critical," says Santo.
On top of that, Santo says that "people want to feel as though they are getting value for their money - a great price and a great service".
Avantair plans to grow the business "from the ground up". Santo says: "We have nearly eight years experience building this business and we can help our partners to avoid all the mistakes that we have made."
Santo hopes to emulate the success of its US programme within its target regions. To date Avantair has amassed around 1,000 customers - 700 fractional owners and 300 lessors - and was one of the few fractional operators that continued to grow during the downturn.
The Clearwater, Florida-based programme has a fleet of 56 Avanti IIs and has 41 of the twin pusher turboprops on order for delivery over the next three years.
"There is no reason why we cannot have the same success in these regions as long as we grow the market carefully," says Santo. "There is a huge base of wealthy individuals and businesses within each of these markets which we expect to account for between eight and 12 aircraft a year."