Fractional operator says huge investment will transform private aviation in Europe

NetJets has launched a transatlantic service designed to woo former Concorde customers and open the market to a new generation of passengers disillusioned with airline travel.

NetJets will drop expensive ferry charges, costing up to $25,000 on flights that originate or terminate in continental USA, and will base large-cabin Gulfstream types for the first time in Europe. The company says this huge investment will boost demand for its Lisbon, Portugal-based operation, NetJets Europe, the only fractional-ownership operator on the continent.

NetJets unveiled preliminary plans at the Paris air show last June to begin the service after the retirement of the British Airways and Air France Concordes.

NetJets Europe will initially operate a Gulfstream IV-SP and V taken from the US fleet and placed on the Portuguese register. The aircraft will then be joined in September by two new Dassault Falcon 2000EXs.

"We have already pre-sold the GIV-SP to eight owners," says NetJets Europe chief executive Mark Booth, "and as demand for the programme grows, as anticipated, we will add more aircraft."

Booth says "there is a crying need" for an alternative to the burden of airline travel and he believes private aviation provides the only hassle-free solution. "Airlines have no control over airport scheduling," he adds, "no matter what price you pay for a ticket, all passengers will take off and land at the same time."

Although the Gulfstream types take as long as commercial airliners to cross the Atlantic, Booth says, business jet travellers typically fly from business aviation terminals or airports such as RAF Northolt, London and Teterboro, New Jersey, where the pre-boarding process is much shorter.

Booth says a number of factors were working in favour of the new service, including the retirement of Concorde, heightened security measures and delays at large airports and an increased focus on corporation spending.

Access to NetJets Europe's long-range aircraft programme starts at $1.7 million for a one-sixteenth share of a GIV-SP. Owners pay a monthly management fee of €14,600 ($18,500) and an occupied hourly rate of €2,755. NetJets Europe offers a guaranteed response time of 24h.

Source: Flight International