The US fractional ownership industry has added three new players to the line-up, each with the aim of filling a niche within this highly lucrative market.

HeliFlight Shares of Fort Worth, Dallas, is the first US-based helicopter programme. The company has ordered two Bell 430 twin turbine helicopters which will be delivered in the first half of February 1999.

The company also has options for a further eight aircraft.

The helicopters, which have a combined value of $52 million, will operate regionally within a 462km (250nm) radius in Texas and California, although the company has plans to expand in other regions at a later date.

HeliFlight Shares sells a one-eighth share, which will allow the owner up to 125 occupied flight hours, for $688,000. A monthly management fee of $9,651, and an occupied flight hour rate of $642 will also be added.

Flight Options launched the first pre-owned fractional programme in the USA in September, selling shares in four Cessna Citation IIs. In October the Cleveland, Ohio-based company added three Raytheon Hawker 800s to its fleet.

Flight Options has now begun selling shares in three Gulfstream GIVs, which will be operational in the first quarter of 1999. The aircraft are acquired through Flight Options' parent company, Corporate Wings, which manages 46 aircraft from its base, which is also in Cleveland.

"By providing this option we open up jet ownership to a previously untapped market and customers can upgrade to a larger faster jet at a similar cost to smaller [new] jets," says Flight operations president Darnell Martens.

VIP Shair, the second US-based pre-owned fractional ownership programme is selling quarter shares in three Gulfstream GIISPs.

The Wheeling Illinois-based company also plans to take delivery of a Hawker 800 in December and a Learjet 35 "in 1999".

Source: Flight International