Executive Jet has expanded its NetJets Europe operations and customer service centre, to accommodate expected growth in its fractional ownership programme on the continent.

The 9,333m2 (100,500ft2) Oei-ras, Portugal, base is quadruple the size of the previous operations centre. "We expect to double our NetJets Europe aircraft inventory in the next two years. To support this accelerated growth, we need an operations centre which can handle not only our existing business, but also our planned future expansion," says Bruce Huffman, Executive Jet's vice-president of international operations

Woodbridge, New Jersey-based Executive Jet is striving to accelerate interest in its fledgling European fractional ownership programme, set up in 1996 by joint venture partners Zimex Aviation of Switzerland and Portugal's Air Luxor to complement the successful US NetJets programme. Zimex's share in the venture has since been acquired by Executive Jet, although the Swiss company continues to perform light maintenance on the growing business aircraft fleet.

NetJets Europe operates nine aircraft and has 32 more business jets on order - 20 Raytheon Hawker 800XPs and 12 Dassault Falcon 2000s.

A fleet of 23 aircraft is planned for the end of the year, increasing to 50 aircraft within five years, according to Executive Jet chairman Richard Santulli, who recently embarked on a European tour to promote the programme with the company's billionaire owner-investor, Warren Buffet.

Executive Jet also anticipates a fivefold customer increase, from 40 to 200, in the same timeframe.

Source: Flight International