US helicopter fractional-ownership company HeliFlite Shares plans to launch a block charter programme in a bid to stimulate sales. It operates two Bell 430 intermediate twins based at New York Newark and wants to add two more before expanding its operation to Florida.

The company is negotiating additional share sales, says president Bill Force, but needs the charter business to justify buying additional aircraft. He says the charter offering would be similar to the scheme under which Marquis Jet Partners resells blocks of hours on NetJets' fixed-wing fractional ownership fleet. This will cut the cost of entry into HeliFlite's programme.

Offering charter will require HeliFlite obtaining a Part 135 operator's certificate. Force says the company has applied for its own certificate, but could begin charter flights using another operator's Part 135 approval. "We are actively examining charter for New York," he says. "The third aircraft would be used for charter, and to back up the fractional programme. The fourth would be be our next fractional aircraft."

HeliFlite is looking to expand into Florida, then Georgia and southern California with both fractional and charter operations, but its growth plan is paced by the sale of shares. "We need a better economy," says Force. The privately held company will not embark on an expansion until it has four aircraft in New York. "Realistically, we should be there by early in the third quarter," he says.

Source: Flight International