US air taxi company JetSuite is looking to bring its branded charter concept to Europe in the next couple of years as demand for its US operation goes from strength to strength.
Alex Wilcox, JetSuite chief executive and air taxi visionary says expansion into Europe is a natural step for the company as many of its customers would use the service when travelling to the continent. “JetSuite is also a great fit for Europe,” he says. “With our low-cost membership programme and transparent pricing, it will have widespread appeal to business executives and [middle-class] leisure travellers there.”
He admits the air taxi concept – defined by the Air Taxi Association as offering a fleet of more than five low-cost, new-generation aircraft at a price point broadly in line with an airline’s club-class fare – has faltered on the continent. The global recession in the last quarter of 2008 thwarted the ambitions of many companies and only handful of operators have stayed afloat.
“Europe still has huge potential. We could set-up an operation in partnership with an existing company. Or we could go it alone. We haven’t decided,” says Wilcox. JetSuite is also considering to team with a transatlantic carrier to provide onward travel for its passengers to and from a host of European gateways.
The Orange County, California-based company has an similar affiliation with Singapore Airlines in the USA. JetSuite has recorded double digit growth year on year since its launch in 2008. This year, the company is expected to record a turnover of $55 million – up from $24 million last year. JetSuite operates 13 entry level Embraer Phenom 100s and seven Cessna Citation CJ3s. It plans to take delivery of 10 more of the light business jets in 2014.
“The demand is huge,” Wilcox says. “Many people are coming to us from fractional ownership companies as they don’t [want] financial burden of shared ownership or their expensive jet card programmes.” As a result, each of the Phenom 100 fly around 100h a month and the CJ3s about 120h during the same timeframe “more than twice the utilisation of a typical Part 135 airplane”, says Wilcox.