Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

Executive Jet has announced another major order for its NetJets European fractional ownership programme, but has admitted the region's acceptance of this method of business aircraft ownership has been slower than anticipated.

The $400 million contract with Cessna includes 25 Cessna Citation Bravos and 25 Citation Excels. The superlight Excel is the same type being offered in Europe by NetJets UK-based rival Chauffair.

That fractional leasing company joined forces with Flight Options last year to offer fractional ownership in Europe to its US customer base. The first of seven aircraft is set for delivery in August and the entire fleet should be in place by February next year.

Executive Jet, however, denies the move to buy Excels is part of a damage limitation exercise to fend off competition. Richard Santulli, executive chairman and chief executive says: "We are not in competition with Chauffair or Flight Options in Europe as they are offering a different product to ours. We chose the Excel [and the Bravo] because it is ideal for the European market." The first Excel is lined up for delivery to NetJets Europe in November, followed by the Bravo in January.

Shares are sold in one-sixteenth to one-half portions. For example, an eighth interest in an Excel costs $1.25 million which entitles the owner to 75h of occupied flying time a year. Shareholders are also charged a €12,096 ($13,591) monthly management fee as well as €2,475 per occupied hour.

Executive Jet has more than 150 customers in Europe and expects the range of new generation aircraft, including the Dassault Falcon 2000, to drum up further interest in its programme. NetJets will withdraw its Citation SII programme in March next year.

Executive Jet took delivery last month of the first Boeing Business Jet and Gulfstream V ultra long range aircraft for its US fractional ownership programme.

Source: Flight International