Eclipse 500 paves way for Australian fractional ownership scheme

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Australian fractional-ownership hopeful JetGroup is planning to launch its Private Class scheme with the Eclipse 500 after sister company EPAC Aviation secured distribution rights for the very light jet in Australia and New Zealand.

The Private Class scheme is based on fractional ownership, but adapted to meet local financial regulations. Fractional ownership has previously failed to take off in Australia due to financial and depreciation issues.

JetGroup has been trying to launch Private Class for a year and had intended to use a range of light, mid-size and large corporate jets, including the Cessna Citation CJ2, Dassault Falcon 900EX and Hawker 400XP and 900XP. Problems with securing aircraft meant it was unable to finalise syndicates, says Bill Meeke, formerly chief executive of West Australian airline Skywest, who has partnered former finance and leasing executive Anthony Dunlop in the venture.

 © Eclipse Aviation

They have set up a new company EPAC Aviation to act as Eclipse distributor. Meeke was last week "on the cusp" of signing up the first Eclipse customer, based in Western Australia and seeking to purchase the jet outright. EPAC is talking to a number of potential customers to buy aircraft outright and for the fractional scheme, says Meeke. "We believe it [the Eclipse 500] will be a tremendously successful product for Australia and New Zealand as it is perfectly suited to the market," he says.

As a result, the Eclipse 500 will be used as the launch pad for Private Class. "We're putting all of our energies into the Eclipse side. We hope to finalise a syndicate in the next month and have our first aircraft by the end of the year," he says, adding that an Eclipse 500 syndicate will normally involve four customers. The scheme will grow from there with customers upgrading to larger aircraft. "It makes more sense to build it up from there [the Eclipse]," says Meeke.