Gulfstream wins $1.3bn deal and Dassault secures further $2.5bn letter of intent for fractional ownership programme

United Airlines subsidiary United BizJet Holdings has placed the first orders for its business jet fractional ownership programme. The company has placed orders and options worth $1.3 billion with Gulfstream for 35 GIVs and GVs and signed a letter of intent with Dassault for a mix of 100 Falcon business jets worth $2.5 billion.

United BizJet president Stuart Oran says the company will have placed orders and options for 300 aircraft by the time initial fleet acquisition plans are complete. The company intends to have 200 aircraft in fractional service by 2006.

The deal includes firm orders for seven long-range, large-cabin GIV-SPs and five ultra-long-range GVs, plus options for 23 GIV-SPs and GV-SPs. Deliveries will begin the second quarter 2002 and Gulfstream will maintain the aircraft.

Once finalised, the deal with Dassault will consist of firm orders for 30 super mid-size Falcon 2000s and 2000EXs and 10 large-cabin 900EXs, as well as firm orders for a further 50 2000EXs and 10 900EXs. First Falcon 2000 deliveries are set for the beginning of 2002.

"We will be looking at the full range of business aviation products, ranging from much smaller to far larger aircraft," says Oran. Generally, United BizJet will operate one aircraft type in each size class, but there will be overlap, he says. Despite ordering the Falcon 2000, for example, United BizJet is looking at the super mid-size Gulfstream 200 (formerly the Galaxy).

While the programme will offer aircraft as small as the Cessna Citation Encore or Raytheon Beechjet 400A light jets, it will not acquire any larger than the GV-SP, he says. A separate corporate shuttle subsidiary plans to operate aircraft as large as the Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) or Boeing Business Jet. Manufacturers including Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Raytheon confirmed at the show they have held talks with United BizJet.


United BizJet plans to begin marketing fractional shares in the fourth quarter and flying customers next March, with a core (company owned) fleet of used or leased aircraft. The first new GIV-SP will arrive in May. The company plans to take delivery of 20 aircraft next year, 30-40 in 2003 and over 50 a year thereafter.

United is the first large carrier to enter the business jet market. "There are other US carriers who do have modest business aviation solutions, but no-one else has yet started a fractional business," Oran says. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are rumoured to have plans to enter the market.

Virgin has had discussions with Bombardier on acquiring six Global Express ultra-long-range business jets, outfitted with 19 sleeper seats, for a new all-business-class airline tentatively dubbed Virgin JetSet.

The first airline to begin business jet operations is Qatar Airways, which has taken delivery of an ACJ on display at the show.

Source: Flight International