Ramon Lopez/NEW YORK

Executive Jet Aviation (EJA) and Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) have formed a joint venture which will introduce Boeing's $34 million corporate aircraft into EJA's pioneering NetJets fractional-ownership programme.

Acquiring the BBJ, which combines the fuselage of the Boeing 737-700 with the strengthened wing of the larger -800, will take EJA to the next level of fractional ownership, and the Montvale, New Jersey-based firm says that it will help it to expand internationally.

Richard Santulli, Executive Jet's chairman and chief executive, calls the BBJ "a natural complement" to the existing NetJets fleet, which now includes 104 aircraft in service and 170 on order. "It provides the necessary space, range and utility. The BBJ broadens the NetJets fleet and allows us to provide NetJet owners with a full range of airplane sizes to meet their global business transportation needs," he adds.

Financial terms of the venture have not been disclosed, and specifics of the deal, including its structure and the initial aircraft order, will not be finalised for another 30-60 days, says Santulli. He sees a "core" fleet of between four and five BBJs owned by the joint venture.

According to EJA, the number of aircraft would grow as owners sign up for flight hours. EJA is responsible for the sale of fractional interests and aircraft management. Boeing will provide the service support.

Santulli makes it clear that the deal does not affect the planned purchases of Gulfstream IVSPs and Vs. He says it is a "rather good assumption" that formation of the joint venture precludes future purchase of the rival Airbus A319CJ corporate jet.

BBJ, a company established in 1996 by Boeing and General Electric, now holds more than 25 orders from 21 customers.

The first BBJ rolls out of the factory in June 1998. GE, the launch customer with two aircraft, will take delivery of the initial aircraft later that year. EJA will receive its first aircraft during the fourth quarter of 1999.

Source: Flight International