Dublin likely to prefer outright acquisition as it seeks to replace VIP Gulfstream IV

NetJets Europe has submitted a bid to the Irish government offering shares in its fractional ownership fleet as a replacement for the country's VIP Gulfstream IV. The government issued a tender for a new presidential aircraft earlier this year and is believed to favour outright acquisition.

NetJets says its decision to enter the bidding forms part of its strategy to become a key provider of government transport worldwide.

"Although the Irish government has issued a tender for a whole aircraft, NetJets is offering a cost-efficient alternative," says NetJets Europe vice-president of communications Charles McLean. As part of the tender, NetJets has suggested that Ireland buys fractions in two aircraft - the mid-size Raytheon Hawker 800 XP and the large-cabin Dassault Falcon 2000 - which it says "would allow ministers and officials to use the aircraft most suitable for each trip".

McLean suggests fractional aircraft ownership will diffuse much of the criticism levelled at the Irish government in recent months for spending large sums of taxpayers' money on a new business aircraft.

"The NetJets programme will save the Irish taxpayer millions of euros. Aircraft costing €10 million [$11.6 million] or more can be acquired by the fraction for just a fraction of the cost," he adds. For example, a leased 3/16th share in a Hawker 800XP costs €19,000 a month, and would entitle the government to 150h of flying time a year. Factoring in costs for maintenance, management, and running, the total expense would be less than €5,000 per hour flown, or about €7.70 per kilometre.

NetJets Europe says it is talking to three other governments and says it is close to an agreement with one. McLean says once governments start "thinking out of the box" and accepting fractional ownership as an option, the concept will take off.

Meanwhile, NetJets is planning to launch a campaign in September aimed at attracting former Concorde passengers to its US and European fractional ownership programmes.

One of the key messages of the campaign, says McLean, is that only private jet travel will allow passengers to match the door-to-door transatlantic journey times of Concorde. "Business jets such as the Gulfstream IV-SP and GV offer a fast, convenient alternative to airlines and because business jets typically take off and land at smaller, private airports, passengers are also able to avoid lengthy delays at large commercial airports," he says.

NetJets says the per passenger cost of a GIV-SP carrying six passengers is £3,500 ($5,800), based on the standard Concorde one-way transatlantic fare of around £4,000, and with 13 passengers the cost falls to slightly over £1,600.

Source: Flight International