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Aviace holds off Jet Club start-up

JUSTIN WASTNAGE / LONDON

Launch of block charter scheme delayed to end of next year due to engine-related slip in Eclipse 500 programme

Aviace has put its block charter jet club on hold in response to the engine-related delays to the Eclipse 500 personal jet programme. The Aviace jet club concept, a mix between fractional ownership and air taxi chartering, is to be redefined over the next 18 months before relaunch at the end of next year.

Kloten, Switzerland-based Aviace ordered 112 Eclipse 500 personal jets at the European Business Aircraft Convention and Exhibition last May. It planned to act as distributor for the aircraft through jet clubs of around 10 co-owners, or members. Following the cancellation of a 1,000-aircraft order by Nimbus Group last November, Aviace is the single largest customer for the 500.

By the time of Eclipse's decision to ditch the 770lb-thrust (3.4kN) Williams International EJ22 turbofan late last year, Aviace had already sold around 45 aircraft among clubs established in Paris and Zurich, says Peter Pfister, chairman of Aviace. "The programme was put on hold for 24 months until we have clear delivery details from Eclipse," he adds. No other aircraft has been considered as an alternative, Pfister says, and no owners have cancelled their orders.

Aviace cannot discuss any aspects of financial compensation given by Eclipse to Aviace for loss of revenues the delay has caused, says Pfister, but says losses are "not considerable, as the company is only in start-up mode".

Aviace is to restart in late 2004, aiming for 2006 first delivery from Eclipse, but will concentrate on airports in countries neighbouring Switzerland, to gain critical mass sooner, he says. Aviace will also pre-assign existing business jet operators for each new club, to speed up regulatory hurdles associated with acquiring aircraft operators' certificates, he says. Aviace Standard 50h membership could rise from the planned €78,000 ($85,000), after an Eclipse price hike to $950,000.

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