Julian Moxon/BRUSSELS

US FRACTIONAL - ownership company NetJets, is negotiating a purchase of up to 50 business jets, virtually doubling its proposed fleet. The move "...proves the tremendous potential" of the fractional-ownership market, according to international-marketing senior vice-president Kevin Russel.

NetJets has more than $1 billion-worth of Cessna Citation S-11s, Citation V Ultras, Gulfstream IV-SPs and Raytheon Hawker 1000s on order, says Russel, and will have taken delivery of 22 of the new aircraft in the year to July 1996.

The company also intends to exercise its option for the next 25-aircraft batch of Ultras. "We can't get Cessna to build them fast enough," he says.

The favourite for the new order, which is likely in around 18 months, is the Citation Excel, a larger version of the Ultra with a larger cabin (which has just flown). "...because it is exactly what the market wants", says Russel although, he adds that there are some "...very suitable other aircraft out there. We're in some very tough talks at the moment."

NetJets is on the verge of launching its European operation in partnership with Switzerland-based Zimex Aviation and Portugal's Air Luxor. Russel says that the Citation S/11 will be offered initially, "...because it has the right price, performance and range".

Aircraft will be supplied from the USA to begin with, but will be placed in Europe when the demand requires.

People joining the scheme will be able to take advantage of the existing US network. "We will offer full reciprocity," says Zimex president Hannes Ziegler.

NetJets, which is hiring 15 pilots a month to meet growing demand, says that it remains committed to the Global NetJets plan and is looking at China and South America. Russel adds that the European market study, which was carried out before the launch was a "...great awakening - very different from what we first thought".

The regulatory system, higher air-traffic-control fees and what he calls "enormous" landing fees, plus the different social climate, "...combine to make the NetJets idea particularly attractive for Europeans. We are convinced that Europe will be a very strong market for us."

Source: Flight International