Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Different Type Of NetJets, PlaneSense Sells Fractional Ownership With A Twist

Plane Sense

In the world of fractional ownership, jets are the dominant force. The two biggest fractional share providers, NetJets and Flexjet, estimated to control some 90% of the market, only sell jet programs. In fact, their focus seems to be on bigger, longer range jets such as the Gulfstream G650 and Bombardier’s Global Express. But sometimes you don’t have to fly to Tokyo or even cross-country. And that’s where PlaneSense wants to fit in.

The company has been around for over two decades, but with the delivery of its first Pilatus PC-24 twin-engine jet, the New Hampshire-based fractional share provider may find itself with a higher profile. Last year it entered the jet age with the Nextant 400XTi, a remanufactured Beechjet 400/Hawker 400XP. Previously its exclusive aircraft was the popular single-engine Pilatus PC-12 turboprop, best suited for missions up to around 1,000 miles, although it has a published range of over 2,000 miles. The PC-12 has a maximum cruising speed of about 330 mph compared to 506 mph for its new, larger, double jet-powered cousin, which has a range of over 2,300 miles, according to Pilatus. PlaneSense pegs it in the 1,700 to 1,850-mile range.

For PlaneSense founder and CEO George A. Antoniadis, the leap is less about dreams of getting bigger or unbridled ambitions for growth and more a response to his current customers who want to see the company provide a broader range of value-focused solutions. An electrical engineer by training, and then a management consultant with McKinsey before starting the company, the Greek-born and Swiss-educated Antoniadis shies away from making claims that he is in some way Uberizing private aviation and instead provides measured answers to a barrage of questions.

Privately held, PlaneSense doesn’t publish any figures on revenues or number fractional owners. He says it's in the hundreds. Antoniadis gives that the current fleet includes 36 PC-12s, four Nextant 400XTis, plus its first PC-24, which took flight in March. Contrary to the perception that it operates mainly in the U.S. Northeast, last year there were over 35,000 flights to 47 states, the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada and Central America.

PlaneSense already sells shares nationwide, although there are surcharges when you get into the western half of the country. The PC-24 and PC-12 have different primary service areas, with the jet program going as far as New Mexico and Colorado. Antoniadis is mum on when the remaining western states will come aboard, except to say the PC-24 is hastening that push.

Nicholas Air

Executive AirShare

PlaneSense isn’t alone in having a turboprop fractional offering – both Mississippi-based Nicholas Air and Kansas-based Executive AirShare include turboprops in their programs. However, PlaneSense won’t be joining these and other fractional providers in also selling jet cards. Antoniadis believes mixing card memberships and fractional customers creates a two-class system, something he isn’t interested in. By avoiding cards, it also minimizes the number of high demand periods he has to go outside his fleet for supplement lift through third-party charters, which he pegs in the low single digits.

What’s the profile of the PlaneSense customer? Antoniadis says it ranges from very large corporations that use it for supplemental lift to retirees. Like most private aviation fliers, he says a significant number of customers have multiple solutions, but he is hoping by adding a jet program, that will help “claw back some of them.”

The PC-24 is the first jet from Swiss manufacturer Pilatus, although like the PC-12 it will be able to land and takeoff from grass fields and it has a large cargo door, providing unique abilities to transport oversize items. If you have flown on the PC-12, which many passengers like for its roomy cabin, the PC-24’s interior is two-thirds larger. While the lead-time for reservations with PC-12 share programs are as low as eight hours, the PC-24 will have a 24-hour call out. The company is expecting to take delivery of six of the jets by the end of 2019.

A 1/16th share for the PC-12 starts at $348,000, and the PC-24 is priced at $625,000. Occupied rates are $1,167 and $2,360 per hour, respectively, not including fuel surcharges, and management fees are $6,000 and $9,200 per month.

Will we see PlaneSense participating in the flurry of investments and alliances that are currently roiling through business aviation? “We’re not blind to the market, but we feel there are quite a few things we can do with this company the way it is,” says Antoniadis, adding, “We live and die by how we satisfy each customer on every flight, so that’s our focus.”

Original article can be found here ➤

No comments:

Post a Comment