Fractional to offer CJ1 'test drives'

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UK-based European Business Jets courts continental custom by offering 30min flight slots to bring down costs

Fledgling fractional European Business Jets' offer of a "test drive" opportunity with the launch of a new 5h incentive card scheme aims to showcase how flexible a fractional ownership programme designed specifically for a European private jet clientele can be.

European Business Jets was launched 18 months ago and floated on the alternative investment market in April 2005 with a concept based on a streamlined version of the traditional fractional ownership model, which it considers has been imposed on Europe by US operators. Last week it was granted its own air operator's certificate by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Nick Messer, sales and marketing director, says: "There are various fractional owners out there, but we recognised early on that most business travellers within Europe fly in ones, twos and threes so that's why we chose the five-seat Cessna Citation CJ1, which makes it far more affordable as a programme."

An entry-level sixteenth share is the minimum initial share and costs $260,000 for 37.5h a year. Monthly charges are $5,192, plus $2,545 per flight hour, with fractional owners guaranteed a share of the eventual aircraft sale proceeds, says Messer.

"We also offer short distance, minimum flying times of 30min, whereas in the USA it will be 1h minimum. In Europe, that could take the cost of a short hop from Guernsey to Southampton, say, down to $1,898 from the usual $5,694," he says.

European Business Jets says its demonstration card will allow prospective customers to sample affordable private jet travel whenever and wherever they wish, within its European operating zone, for $5,601 an hour.

"We are, however, not in the business of selling 5h flying programmes," says Messer. "It's fabulously priced at two-thirds the cost of any other programme and the card scheme is merely an incentive to get people to know us," he adds.

European Business Jets has been operating until recently with its launch CJ1 and several more under dry lease arrangements. Its second Citation Jet aircraft arrived early August and two more are expected by the end of the year.

Owners purchase a portion of a specific aircraft based on the number of actual hours they expect to fly annually.

An occupied hourly pricing structure avoids waiting fees or flight repositioning charges within Europe. Operational costs such as airport fees, taxes, fuel, pilot accommodation and other incidental expenses are included in the package.

European Business Jets' fleet is maintained at the CSE Citation Centre in Bournemouth, and its operational team based in Cambridge.