NetJets Europe chairman and chief executive officer Mark Booth says his iconic fractional ownership organisation does not currently see itself in the very light jet (VLJ) marketplace, but he is keeping an eye on the situation.

He explains: “The good news is that we are not excluded from going into that segment if we want to, but our initial impression of it is that the aircraft are targeted at a different market than ours - the owner/operator; people who want to fly their own aircraft. Their performance, he says, “is not going to be comparable with the range that our customers typically want to travel.”

Booth also observes that having to put a second pilot into the right hand seat of such small aircraft merely for insurance purposes negates many of its apparent advantages. Since both pilots are going to have to take their own luggage for a week, he adds, it does not leave much room for customer bags. “But having said that,” Booth comments, “I think it’s great. Anything that gets people flying, that gets them empowered, that shows them what you can do, is good for the industry.”

Still sounding confident about his prognosis on VLJs in relation to fractionals in general and NetJets Europe in particular, Booth comments: “If it turns out we misread the market, if there is a big demand from corporations - which I don’t think there is - then of course we can go out and buy them in the marketplace.”

Are NetJets clients asking Booth about VLJs? “No”, he says emphatically, explaining: “There’s a lot more questions about the bigger aircraft than the smaller aircraft.” Most clients don’t want to fly the aircraft, he points out. “They want to be able to travel a long way; they want a toilet; they want to be able to take a lot of luggage, and their skis.” In fact, looking at NetJets just-ordered 32 Hawker 4000s, the manufacturer, Hawker Beechcraft, calls the type an “entry-level stand-up cabin aircraft”, and as standard its clients will be buying into an aeroplane crewed by two pilots and a cabin attendant. They are clearly not do-it-yourself types.

Booth says that the DayJet type of product – the bus-stop, short-haul air taxi network using VLJs - is completely different from what Netjet clients expect of travel.

Read Flight's comment on the VLJ revolution....

Source: Flight Daily News