Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON

SkyShare International has announced the first franchisees for its US fractional ownership programme. Little Rock, Arkansas-based SkyShare describes the scheme as "the first national programme for locally managed fractional aircraft".

The programme is aimed at fixed-base operators, aircraft management companies and charter operators that want to enter the fractional market. For a $10,000 franchise fee, SkyShare provides marketing, management and legal support services to local operators.

SkyShare president Samuel Miller says the scheme differs distinctly from national fractional ownership programmes, notably Executive Jet's NetJets, in that the local operators select the aircraft - new or used - and set the prices. "We are in a totally different market to the national fractionals, and we're not setting ourselves up in competition with them," he says.

SkyShare does not guarantee aircraft availability, nor does it include in the monthly management fee the cost of "dead head" time incurred by positioning the aircraft. As a result, according to Miller, the programme's cost is reduced substantially.

Miller says the scheme is aimed at two main markets - the individual who wants to fly his own aircraft and companies seeking lower-cost access to a business aircraft. For the former, SkyShare offers undivided-interest ownership, which allows the share owner to use the aircraft for a specified number of days each year with unlimited flying hours. For the latter, SkyShare can structure an agreement between share owners, under which the franchise operator will base an aircraft and crew locally.

Eight companies have signed for franchises, Miller says, and share sales are expected to begin within the next few weeks. Between them, the local operators will offer a range of types from single-engined private aircraft to business turboprops and small jets. SkyShare will inspect and approve aircraft offered, he says.

While SkyShare intends to offer a consistent standard of service nationwide, Miller says, the local programmes will initially be operated independently of each other. Future plans include linking them into a national programme, allowing share owners access to aircraft in other regions.

The franchisees named so far are Arkansas Aircraft of Jonesboro, Arkansas; Atlantic Aero of Greensboro, North Carolina; Business Aviation of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Central Flying Service of Little Rock, Arkansas; Corporate Aviation of Muskegon, Michigan; Corporate Flight Management of Smyrna, Tennessee; North Star Aviation of Mankato, Minnesota; and Ronson Aviation of Trenton, New Jersey.

Source: Flight International