European fractional ownership start-up SmartAir is preparing to exercise around half of its 42 Diamond D-Jet options as development of Europe's first single-engined, personal jet-based fractional programme gathers pace.

The Luxembourg-based company - which unveiled a mock-up of its SmartAir liveried D-Jet at Aero Friedrichshafen - has firm orders for eight aircraft to date and hopes to take delivery of the first D-Jet in 2012. "We have focused our sales efforts on France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Belgium so far where the aircraft and our programme have been well received," says Stéphane Ledermann, SmartAir founder and chief executive.

Lederman, who is also the former chief financial officer for fellow Luxembourg-based fractional provider JetFly, says he is keen to establish a network of dealers throughout the region that will sell the SmartAir concept to Europe's high-net-worth individuals and small and medium-sized companies.

"They could be individuals who are familiar with business aviation or established companies such as luxury car dealers who have connections to these types of customers," he says.

"Our goal now is to take the D-Jet to as many prospective buyers across Europe as possible so they can touch and feel the aircraft and get an understanding of the SmartAir concept," Ledermann adds.

SmartAir is splitting each Luxembourg-registered D-Jet into 10% shares - equivalent to 50 flying hours year. Each owner will pay a monthly management fee of €3,000 ($4,000) and an occupied hourly fee of €895.

Ledermann says he plans to get the first three aircraft "very quickly" and ramp up to 15 aircraft by mid-2013. "We should start to make a profit once we have around 15-20 aircraft as we will have minimised the costly empty legs."

SmartAir is confident the D-Jet programme will find a niche within Europe from people are looking for a low-cost, no-frills, point-to-point transport. The D-Jet will carry up to four passengers and fly into 1,800 airports in Europe alone, says Ledermann.

"Once the programme has taken off in Europe we will then begin to explore potential franchising opportunities for the SmartAir brand in other parts of the world, including Dubai and South America," he says.

Source: Flight International