Bid to raise business jet profile includes introduction of fractional ownership programme

Marubeni Aerospace is to offer business jet charters to Japanese corporations in an effort to kick-start demand for new corporate aircraft sales in the country.

The trading house is the Japanese sales agent for Gulfstream and believes it can sell up to 100 additional aircraft over the next 10 years if it can raise the profile of business jets in Japan and launch a fractional-ownership programme.

Marubeni has formed partnerships with Guam-based ACI Pacific (ACIP) and Hainan Airlines unit Deer Jet to offer corporate jet charters to Japanese customers.

"We want to open the market by using the charter service," says Shingo Ueda, senior manager commercial marketing, sales and management for Marubeni Aerospace's aircraft division.

"Chartering is the best tool for us to let the customers try the aircraft first. Fractional ownership is the next step."

Included in the charter scheme is ACIP's Gulfstream G400, which will be available for flights worldwide, plus Beijing-headquartered Deer Jet's six Raytheon Hawker 800XPs and three Gulfstream G200s for services between Japan and China. Deer Jet ordered its G200s earlier this year and is due to have two in service by the end of this month and the third by March 2003.

Marubeni has sold almost 20 G400s and G500s in Japan to commercial customers and the government. "I think 100 aircraft sales will be easy in the near future, over perhaps 10 years," says Ueda.

The company is yet to finalise plans for launching a fractional- ownership scheme and such a move would require changes to Japan civil aviation bureau regulations. Currently, Marubeni believes fractionally owned aircraft would have to be operated under the same "revenue flight" regulations governing airline operations, rather than the less-stringent requirements for private aircraft.

"JCAB does not have any firm policy on how they should treat fractional ownership in Japan," says Ueda. "Once it is accepted legally, I believe it will be a big market."

Marubeni has not drawn up a timetable, but "if a customer wants us to set up fractional ownership for him, we will do that", says Ueda.

ACIP has separately set up ShareJet with another Japanese trading house, Nissho Iwai, to operate shared-ownership Boeing Business Jets in Asia Pacific (Flight International, 8-14 October).

Source: Flight International