Gulfstream said yesterday it is expanding its arrangement with Executive Jet to the Middle East and also adding the new GV to the programme.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed by the two companies to take the Gulfstream Shares and NetJets fractional ownership schemes into the Middle East.

"It is the strategic intent of Executive Jet and Gulfstream to create a worldwide network of NetJet programmes in conjunction with the Gulfstream Shares programme, linking all continents," says Gulfstream chairman Ted Forstmann.

Fractional ownership allows customers to purchase a percentage share in a business jet. Executive Jet now operates nearly 100 aircraft in the NetJets and Gulfstream Share programmes.

The first GV will enter the Gulfstream Shares programme during the fourth quarter of 1999.



Richard Santulli, who pioneered fractional ownership when he founded NetJets, says: "This programme has revolutionised business aviation, making business jets affordable to more people and companies than ever before."

He adds that US customers are now asking for GV fractional ownership.

Gulfstream's Forstmann is hoping also to have a scheme in the Far East "sooner rather than later".

Forstmann is in bullish mood about business. Gulfstream's backlog at the end of March stood at $3.3billion. "I am very optimistic about the rest of the year, but the finances look even better for 1998 and 1999," he says.

He did confirm, however, that there "absolutely" will be no more follow-ons from the GIV and GV.

"We are spending $15.2million a year on research and development on the existing GIV and GV to keep them ahead of their class. There is no new number."

The GV that was flown from Gulfstream's headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, to Paris completed its transatlantic flight in just 6h 43min. "Every time we send the thing up, it breaks another record. We are used to that now," says Forstmann.

The GV gained final Federal Aviation Administration certification in April.



With an order backlog that stretches into the year 2000, Forstmann insists he has few concerns about new competition from Airbus and Boeing, which have recently both launched business jets based on commercial airline airframes.

"Nothing can touch our backlog," he says. "I think Airbus will be in competition with Boeing, not with us.

"What they are offering serves a purpose when a certain type of customer is looking for size and is prepared to give up a little range and an awful lot of airfields."

Source: Flight Daily News