A share of the pie

Not everyone can afford a private jet. So, why not buy a timeshare and fly the aircraft of your choice every time you need to fly?

Deepti Khanna Bose        Print Edition: May 4, 2008

Imagine having an aircraft complete with captain and crew, available at your beck and call. Jet off to Paris for an anniversary dinner or travel to a conference at a time that suits you.

And if the $45-million (Rs 180 crore) price tag of a new Gulfstream V causes you to miss a heartbeat— fear not. There is no need to worry about regular maintenance charges, crew salaries, and fuel and repair costs.

Fly the aircraft of your choice
Fly the aircraft of your choice
Try a fractional or timeshare ownership experience, instead. This allows a shareholder to use an aircraft for a predetermined number of hours per year. For people who want the experience of private jet ownership without the hassles, expenses and liabilities—this truly is the way to fly. In the last one year, the demand for such a service in India has soared. The likes of Ashish Chordia, of US-based NetJets, and Manav Singh’s Club One Air are already in operation, and Tata co-promoted BizJet is set to commence operations in May this year.

So, how to go about getting yourself a timeshare?

Fractional ownership

Fractional ownership is a concept wherein two or more individuals own a share in an aircraft and benefit by splitting overheads such as pilots, maintenance and other expenses. It allows one to lease-purchase a fractional interest in a single aircraft and guarantees on demand 24/7 availability to the purchaser of that or another airplane from an entire fleet available with the timeshare company.

Bye-Bye chartered flight?

In chartering, there is no guarantee of an available aircraft or crew. In fractional programmes, the aircraft and crew availability is guaranteed. In chartering, there, typically, are charges for ‘deadhead’ or ferrying time, getting from the charter operator’s base to where the airplane will be needed and getting back to the charter operator’s base. In fractional programmes, usage is based on hours in the air, beginning at the point at which you wish to depart rather than from a charterer’s base of operations.

The overheads

In timeshare schemes, the operator is obliged to maintain the aircraft and to provide two pilots for each flight. If the aircraft is damaged due to the negligence of the operator or another owner or is undergoing routine periodic maintenance, the operator is still obliged to provide you with another plane from the fleet.

The cost factor

A fractional ownership programme at NetJets is designed for those flying 50 hours-a-year or more. Customers can acquire or lease a share of an aircraft equal to the flight hours they need. A customer who purchases one-fourth share of a jet will be entitled to 200 occupied hours per year. Prices for fractional ownership range from $400,000 (Rs 1.6 crore) for a 1/16th share in a seven-seater Hawker 400XP, allowing the owner to fly 50 occupied hours per year, to just over $2.5 million (Rs 10 crore) for a 1/16th share in a Gulfstream 550 that is capable of non-stop flights from Mumbai to London. Other jet time share companies offer, more or less, the same sort of packages. It costs approximately Rs 83 lakh for 25 hours of flying a year in a six-seat low-end jet.

A fleet at your command

If your aircraft is not available when you need it, another aircraft will be taken from the fleet operated by the operator under what is known, in legal terms, as the ‘Master Interchange Agreement’, which provides that any part-owner of the fleet may dry lease another’s aircraft. If another aircraft is not available from the master interchange fleet, the operator will charter a third party aircraft as ‘supplemental lift’ for you.

Aircraft on offer

NetJets allows its customers the choice of a wide range of aircraft from all the major manufacturers: Hawker, Dassault, Gulfstream and Cessna. The fleet includes 10 aircraft split between light jets, mid-size jets and large cabin ones. Later this year, a Hawker 750, a Hawker 4000 and a Falcon 7X is joining the fleet. Club One Air offers the Cessna Citation II and Citation Excel at present.

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