Atlanta operator could mirror rivals' schemes as it looks for turboprop alternative
Owner-flyer shared-ownership programme AirShares Elite is considering launching a card-based airtime programme as it considers alternatives to the defunct AeroCourier turboprop.
Atlanta, Georgia-based AirShares operates a fleet of Cirrus SR20s and SR22s and Piper Senecas, and has orders for Adam A500s, on behalf of its customers, the 100th of which joined last month.
The company now offers equity ownership like jet fractional schemes as well as exclusive-use licences, under which owners purchase the right to use an AirShares aircraft for a fixed number of hours a year.
The exclusive-use licences are likely to be offered in a card format, mirroring schemes such as the NetJets sub-fractional MarquisJet Card, says Brad Ross, head of operations at AirShares' Boston, Massachusetts location.
Unlike jet fractional programmes, AirShares is highly selective of its customers, looking for committed pilots who maintain their aircraft, says Ross. "It is a very disciplined selection process, they must be a good pilot with a strong financial backing," he says.
Founded in 1999, AirShares's fleet now totals 22 aircraft, operating from US cities Atlanta, Birmingham, Boston, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
AirShares will be opening two new bases in Florida this month, in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. Ross says that as the company considers more locations, it will invest in an airport before marketing it, adding that it does not sell "pipe-dreams".
AirShares has retracted its order for 20 AeroCourier multimission turboprops after the apparent failure of the project.
Despite being launch customer for the 10-seat variant, AirShares says it has no knowledge of the status of the project and is now considering alternatives.
The company has expressed interest in adding the Adam A700 jet to its fleet, but says it is hesitant to further pursue the aircraft before it is certificated.
The A700 shares partial cockpit commonality with the A500 and Cirrus aircraft.
EVAN SWEETMAN & JUSTIN WASTNAGE / LONDON
Source: Flight International