The fastest aircraft in civil aviation is about to fly more customers of fast-growing XOJet.

The St. Carlos, California-based Part 135 operator announced today a firm order for 30 Cessna Citation Xs. The deal is valued at more than $600 million, but the purchase price was not revealed.

“We thought we had to go one better over last year’s show,” joked Nick Solinger, chief strategy officer. At the 2006 NBAA Convention the company announced it was founding its fleet with an order for 17 Citation Xs. The last five of that order will be delivered by the end of this year, with the next 30 scheduled for delivery over three years.

Forty-seven jets with 10 seats each might seem like plenty, but Solinger says they could use even more. “We’re growing by gangbusters!”

Their “exchange ownership” model brings the luxury and convenience of charters under a system similar to air taxis. Clients can bring up to eight passengers anywhere within the jet’s range of 2,670nm (4,940km), with no scheduling pressure from an absentee owner.

Solinger lists the advantages over charter, pointing out there is no fee to fly the empty Citation X to a client’s location. “Even if you’re flying one way on charter you end up paying the round trip anyway,” he adds.

When the trips are over, the Citation drops off the passenger and heads to the nearest XOJet Hangar. Teterboro in New Jersey flies clients out of the New York City area and is its busiest departure base. Most clients go from east to west, with Citations based in California at Van Nuys. Heavy maintenance facilities are at McClellan, California, and Wilmington, Delaware. A fifth base is planned to open in Florida.

The business model equates to costs 20- 40% lower than fractional ownership, Solinger says, and 50% less expensive than charters. Primary focus is on “owners,” their regular clients who receive guaranteed availability. Guaranteed flights in the summer are 40% of their business, but in February and March business and leisure travel converge, bringing flights by “owners” up to 100%.

Mixing the two means that 95% of all legs carry paying customers. “That compares to a fractional model that’s typically north of 30% unpaid,” Solinger says.
He stresses that lower costs do not mean anything less than high-end service in the best planes. Flight attendants are even available, but he estimates they travel on less than 10% of flights.

More news from NBAA 2007 ...



Source: Flight Daily News