Monday, April 30, 2007

MAXjet Adds Executive Leadership with New Chairman, CFO, COO and VP of People Services

MAXjet Airways has announced additions to its executive leadership team, including a new Chairman of the Board, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer and Vice President of People Services.
The MAXjet Airways Board of Directors has appointed long-time board member and Extra Space Storage CEO Kenneth Woolley as Chairman, replacing Richard Sharp. Mr. Woolley is founder, Chairman and CEO of Extra Space, the second largest self-storage company in the United States. He was an early investor in MAXjet and has served as a Director of the company since inception. He was a founder of Richmond Foods plc, the United Kingdom’s largest ice cream maker, and was an early investor in JetBlue Airways.
John Severson was named Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining MAXjet, Mr. Severson was Chief Financial Officer of Spirit Airlines for nearly nine years, and was Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Jet USA Inc. He also has served in executive positions at MGM Grand Air and Jet America Airlines. He reports to MAXjet CEO William Stockbridge.
George Paul will join MAXjet on May 14 as Chief Operations Officer. Mr. Paul will be responsible for Flight Operations, Maintenance & Engineering, Quality Assurance, and Security & Safety. Mr. Paul has over 25 years of airline experience, most recently as president of Paulcam Aviation Consultants, a company that assists airlines with regulatory issues. He was a founding officer and Senior Vice President of Maintenance & Engineering, Ground Operations and Material Services at Gemini Air Cargo, an international cargo airline. He reports to Mr. Stockbridge.
In addition, Ceciley Bachnik joins MAXjet today as Vice President of People Services. She will be responsible for the People Services Department at MAXjet and will report to Mr. Stockbridge. Ms. Bachnik has 26 years of human resources experience, including seven years as Vice President of People Services at Spirit Airlines.
“MAXjet is a growing airline with a great business plan. These talented individuals bring their leadership to our already solid team as we prepare for growth and expansion,” said CEO William D. Stockbridge. “We are delighted to welcome these executives. It means MAXjet will only be stronger in the days and months ahead.”
MAXjet pioneered affordable All Business Class transatlantic service in 2005. MAXjet offers fast check-in, spacious airside departure lounges, padded deep-recline leather seats with 60” pitch, gourmet four-course meals and premium beverages and wines and on-demand entertainment for the price of a flexible Economy Class fare.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Silverjet buys its second jet

Silverjet, the British-owned all business class airline, has announced the delivery of its second aircraft, due to begin service in July.
The Luton-based airline said that the aircraft, purchased from Thomsonfly, will create an additional return flight on its London Luton to New York Newark route after its fit-out including 102 beds.Financing of the aircraft was via a sale and leaseback arrangement with Novus Capital, within the parameters of its business plan, the firm said.“We have had significant customer demand for a second daily service and this will allow us to capture some of the afternoon transatlantic market out of London,” said chief executive, Lawrence Hunt.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

John Travolta scares little old ladies with private jet

John Travolta has ticked off residents of Owl’s Head, Maine - because of his noisy Gulfstream G-II private jet (N492JT).
Travolta regularly uses Knox County Regional Airport because it’s close to a home he owns - and locals are upset he doesn’t abide by rules to cut down on noise pollution. Residents claim the boisterous jet scares the hell out of people everytime he flies over.
Airport manager Jeff Northgraves told The Enquirer that there is a voluntary flight curfew, “Pilots have abided by that with one exception - Travolta. He has the loudest aircraft that we see here.”
Northgraves reveals he receives complaint letters from locals whenever Travolta uses his airport - and he even wrote Travolta, asking him to be more considerate. He said, “The area has a lot of little old ladies and retired people.” Awwww. Bad John!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Silverjet to add second aircraft on Luton to New York route

Silverjet, the all business-class airline, has taken delivery of its second aircraft which will begin operating on the carrier's London Luton to New York Newark Airport route this summer.
The airline began daily flights to New York at the end of January this year, offering a business class product for lower prices than full-service airlines.
It now plans to add a second daily return service using the new Boeing 767-200 aircraft, which it will equip with 100 six-foot three-inch long beds.
"We are delighted to announce the delivery of our second aircraft as we build on the success of our first 100 days of operations," said the airline's chief executive Lawrence Hunt.
"We have again demonstrated our ability to deliver on the objectives set out at the IPO and have been taking bookings since December 2006 for our second daily return service to Newark New York which will launch on 2 July 2007 from our private terminal facility at London Luton Airport."
Having a private terminal at Luton means that check-in times for Silverjet flights are cut to 30 minutes (for those with only carry-on baggage).
The airline is also running a competition together with The Guardian to offer participants the chance to win two return tickets to New York. Entrants simply need to enter details such as their name and address via the newspaper's website.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ticket taxes fund corporate jets

The federal government has taken billions of dollars from the taxes and fees paid by airline passengers every time they fly and awarded it to small airports used mainly by private pilots and globe-trotting corporate executives.

Some of these "general aviation" facilities used the federal dollars for enhancements such as longer runways and passenger terminals aimed at luring traffic, an Associated Press review has found. And the money comes with little oversight, and at the expense of an increasingly beleaguered air transportation system.

"They're making out like bandits," said Bob Poole, director of transportation studies at Southern California's Reason Foundation and author of several studies on air transportation costs. "It's not only that airline passengers are paying more than their fair share, but they're being overtaxed to give private jets a free ride."

Passengers pay as many as six separate taxes and fees on a single airline ticket, adding up to more than $104 billion since 1997, the AP found. Yet these assessments often are overlooked by the millions who click the "buy" button to purchase tickets online, even though they can exceed 25 percent of the total airfare.

Travelers deal with more hassles than ever. In 2006, more passengers were bumped, their flights delayed or their bags lost than in 2005, according to the annual Airline Quality Rating report released earlier this month.

"What are people getting for their money?" said Kenneth Button, a professor of transportation at George Mason University's School of Public Policy and an expert on air transit taxation. "Delays are increasing. How can consumers make a sensible assessment on how the money is being spent? You need an abacus to figure out all the costs."

Congress will decide later this year whether to curtail the huge public subsidy for small airports, while pilots' associations, airport managers and other interested groups are fighting to keep it.

Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association, which represents 8,000 operators of private jets and other aircraft, said all Americans benefit from the proliferation of small airports throughout the country. They aid emergency preparedness and critical services such as medical evacuations and mail delivery, he noted.

Without help from the federal government in the form of passenger taxes, many would be unable to survive, Bolen said.

"Not all aircraft are the same nor do they impose the same costs on the system," he said. "If we were grounded tomorrow, the system would cost the same."

Mark Cooper of the Washington-based Consumer Federation of America said the key question is whether passengers are paying for something and getting nothing in return.

"It costs me more to park my car at National Airport than it costs to park a corporate jet," he said.

The taxes and fees finance the Federal Aviation Administration and its air traffic control operations, as well as passenger and baggage screening, federal air marshals and police presence at the nation's commercial hubs.

Hundreds of smaller airports also are among the beneficiaries. These run the gamut from remote rural airstrips serving crop-dusters and hobbyists, to "executive" airports serving corporate jets and exclusive resort destinations:

-- J.T. Wilson Field in Somerset, Ky. got more than $12 million since 2001, much of it through the influence of local Rep. Hal Rogers, a longtime Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee who uses the airfield for trips home. Wilson Field is home base to 26 small planes and one jet. Despite millions in improvements, including a passenger terminal, the airport has yet to see scheduled commercial service.

-- California's Napa Valley Airport collected $6.3 million in taxpayer dollars over the past two years, even though it mainly serves private jets and small planes in addition to being a pilot training base for Japan Air Lines.

-- Sardy Field, in the ultra-rich mountain playground of Aspen, Colo., has received $27.2 million in funding since 2005. While Aspen does offer service by major airlines, private jets and other general aviation aircraft make up the majority of its traffic, airport officials said.

-- Austin Municipal Airport, about 90 miles south of Minneapolis, is home base for 25 small planes and three jets, at least two of which are owned by Hormel Foods, a Fortune 500 company with headquarters nearby. Since 2000, the airport received nearly $16 million in federal funding. More than two-thirds of the takeoffs and landing are by small, private planes.

-- Greenville Municipal Airport, on Maine's Moosehead Lake, received $4.1 million over two years despite being the home airport to eight small planes and seeing fewer than 6,000 takeoffs and landings per year.

-- Marion-Crittenden County Airport in rural Western Kentucky spent $4 million in federal dollars over the past five years to transform and lengthen a grass landing strip into a 4,400-foot, paved runway capable of handling jet traffic. The upgrade began in earnest after Tyco Corp. pulled out of the region, taking 300 jobs with it.

James C. Johnson, a former FAA employee and pilot who chairs the local airport board, said the runway allows "corporate decision-makers to get in and out of here in a manner they like to travel."

"We're not saying money shouldn't be going to those airports," said John Heimlich, vice president and chief economist at the Air Transport Association, a trade group representing the airlines. "We're saying it shouldn't be our money."

Passenger taxes are collected in noncommercial aviation only in instances involving the fractional ownership of private jets, air charter operations and small commuter flights. Instead, it contributes to America's air transit infrastructure in the form of a fuel tax that covers just a fraction of the services it uses.

A study released in February by the FAA said it cost $2.4 billion just to provide air traffic control for private and corporate planes in 2005. The industry contributed just $516 million in fuel taxes that year.

Another $500 million annually pays for weather forecasts and other preflight data for private pilots. These contribute to overall air safety, according to Andy Chebula, executive vice president for government affairs at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which represents more than 410,000 pilots and is lobbying heavily for retaining passenger taxes.

If private pilots have to start paying for such things themselves, they just won't bother, Chebula said.

Advocates of private and corporate aviation, which accounts for more than half of all air traffic, say the industry also costs far less to operate than commercial carriers, with their giant aircraft.

"A Cessna Citation doesn't require the same Air Traffic Control resources as a 747," said Mike Tretheway, a consultant to the National Business Aviation Association. "What's driving FAA costs are the airlines."

The main source of federal funding for small airports and airstrips is the Airport Improvement Program, which has distributed $7.1 billion to airports of all sizes since 2005.

About $2.2 billion of that went to small airports with little or no passenger service, many of them near popular recreation or tourist destinations. Most of that money was collected from commercial airline passengers.

Some airports have used AIP money to buy up surrounding property to create noise barriers between aircraft and neighboring residential areas. But an FAA audit found that six airports that used AIP funding for noise mitigation later sold the land and used $82 million from the sales for unapproved purposes.

Other small airports have used their AIP money to extend and upgrade runways and taxiways for use by today's heavier private jets, which often is pitched as an incentive for local economic development.

The operators of Plattsburg International Airport, in upstate New York, used $12 million in AIP funds to outfit the former Air Force base with better runways, a state-of-the-art landing system and a new terminal. These improvements helped lure aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, as well as the Department of Homeland Security and other tenants.

Former airport manager Ralph Hensel said Plattsburg also is hoping to lure commuter traffic from nearby growth-restricted Clinton County Airport, and possibly entice scheduled service by commercial carriers.

Scores of other small airports spent millions on runway extensions, lighting and updated landing systems that airport managers say were not specifically for the benefit of private jets and business aircraft, but do lend themselves to such uses.

Congress now is considering new approaches to financing the FAA before its funding expires Sept. 30. The House and Senate Aviation Subcommittees have been conducting hearings on the topic since February.

The FAA wants to scrap many existing passenger taxes and replace them with higher fuel taxes and user fees that would put more of the burden on noncommercial aviation.

"We will need to invest resources in order to make the transition to a new system that will significantly reduce operating costs and better serve our customers in the long run," FAA administrator Marion Blakey told a Senate subcommittee on aviation in February.

Pilots' groups, business aviation organizations and small plane manufacturers are fighting the agency's proposal.

Bolen, the National Business Aviation Association president, said the nation's entire aviation infrastructure is geared toward commercial air travel and cargo.

"It's like going out to dinner and somebody buys the most expensive stuff and then says, 'Hey, let's divide this up among all the diners,'" he said. "Who should pay for that?"

Commercial airlines support the proposed changes and say private aviation has been collecting huge taxpayer handouts that should go to airports that serve the general public.

"We're saying users should pay in proportion to their share of system use," said Heimlich, of the Air Transport Association. "The current system isn't priced rationally."

The scrutiny from lawmakers comes ahead of a planned overhaul of the nation's aging air transit system. Air traffic is predicted to grow by more than 25 percent over the next decade, and experts say the growth will be driven by a proliferation of smaller passenger planes and private jets.

The ambitious overhaul will replace existing ground-based radar with satellites and is expected to cost $22 billion -- maybe more.

The FAA's poor track record of containing costs is well-documented. For example, in 2003, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, reported the agency's ongoing efforts to modernize air traffic control and found the price tag had reached $35 billion -- nearly three times the original estimate of $12 billion when the project began in 1981. Much of that money also came directly from airline passengers in the form of ticket taxes.

"Then was then, now is now," said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown, adding that Blakey has drastically tightened FAA financial management since becoming agency administrator in 2002. "The way we manage programs is dramatically different."

Former Pennsylvania congressman James Coyne, now president of the National Air Transportation Association, said that doesn't negate the fact that the federal government has squandered aviation money over the past two decades.

"Certainly billions of dollars were wasted because of mismanagement," said Coyne, whose group represents charter, tour and commuter aviation operators and opposes eliminating passenger taxes. "Now, there must be some accountability."

Source: Business Week

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Eos Airlines adds frequencies

Eos Airlines is adding three flights to its schedule between New York JFK and London Stansted to bring its all-business-class 757 service to 32 flights per week.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Silverjet releases March performance and announces cargo capacity

The all-business-class airline sold 3,293 revenue seats in March, representing a 59% load factor. In addition, last month it began offering cargo services on its daily London Luton-Newark 767 flight. Silverjet Cargo will manage 10 tonnes of available payload outbound and 15 tonnes back to Luton. CargoOne is the GSA in the UK and Platinum Air Cargo in the US. The carrier signed trucking contracts to transfer freight from London Heathrow and New York JFK. "Silverjet's immediate plans include the delivery of a second aircraft in June and a third in November 2007. The entire fleet will offer the same potential for cargo and we plan to exploit it fully," Cargo MD Michael Meagher said.

Silverjet share placing...

Silverjet announced an underwritten placing, subject to shareholder approval, designed to raise £27 million ($53.1 million) gross. Shares are being placed at £1.80 each, a discount of 3.49% from the closing market price, the startup carrier said. The money will be used for "general working capital purposes."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Private A380 VIP 'Flying Palace' design ready - but order not yet signed

US design house Edése Doret Industrial Design is nearing completion of an interior configuration for a prospective customer for the VIP Airbus A380 "Flying Palace", although the client is yet to sign a firm order for the aircraft.
Airbus revealed earlier this month that an unnamed launch customer had signed a letter of intent for the VIP A380.
Company president Edése Doret says that while the design is nearing completion, it is still subject to adjustment by the client. "They will most likely make changes prior to design freeze," he says.
While Doret will not comment on whether the customer is from the Middle East, the images clearly show flat-screen moving map monitors carrying Arabic script, with Dubai as the origin of a theoretical flightpath.

NetJets is confident of new orders and profits

NetJets Europe is expecting a fresh round of aircraft orders this year and is confident it will remain profitable, having reached this milestone for the first time last year - a decade after it began.
Warren Buffett, chairman of NetJets parent company Berkshire Hathaway, said in his annual letter to shareholders that a "much improved situation is emerging at NetJets".
The 1996 move into Europe was "particularly expensive" and after five years of operation "we had acquired only 80 customers", he says. "By mid-year 2006, our cumulative pre-tax loss had risen to $212 million."
Now demand in Europe is soaring, "with the company adding 589 customers in 2005 and 2006", bringing the total to 1,300 customers - 600 fractional owners and 700 charter card holders.
"We have spent the last 10 years building the infrastructure that has allowed us to secure both the brand and the success we have today," says NetJets Europe business development manager Robert Dranitze. This year NetJets Europe is investing $30 million on improved remuneration for its cabin crew and will add 24 business jets to its 115-strong fleet.
"We are very bullish about the European market. It is huge and we have barely scratched the surface," says Dranitze.
NetJets' US operation also had a good year, with the company generating earnings of $143 million compared with a loss of $80 million in 2005, primarily because of the need to charter to meet "unusually high owner demand", adds Buffett.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Airlines and environment: Silverjet inspires SAS on carbon emission offsetting programme

SAS Scandinavian Airlines is offering passengers the opportunity "to offset carbon dioxide emissions from air travel by paying [voluntary] compensation" via its website. Compensation fees are not set but the airline noted that a typical Scandinavia-Europe roundtrip would cost €4.50 ($5.93) for the passenger to offset his share of emissions generated.

Delta AirElite adds Gulfstream GIV-SP to charter fleet

Delta AirElite continues to expand its long range business jet fleet with the addition of another large cabin late-model aircraft, a Gulfstream GIV-SP based in San Jose, Calif. The aircraft, which will be operated under Delta AirElite's FAR Part 135 operating certificate, is being added as demand for long range charter and Fleet Membership flying continues to grow. The GIV-SP has been a popular aircraft with customers, offering a spacious cabin designed for ultimate passenger comfort.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bombardier Aerospace 2006 delivery summary

Bombardier Aerospace delivered 326 aircraft in year ended January 31 (vs 337 a year ago): 64 CRJs (vs 110); 48 Q-Series (vs 28); 71 Learjets (vs 69); 99 Challengers (vs 98); 42 Globals (vs 30); and two amphibians (vs 2).

Embraer Phenom Milestone

Embraer announced program milestones for Phenom 100/300. It plans in March to begin final assembly of Phenom 100 in São José dos Campos and make first flight mid-2007; several fuselage sections have been produced and assembled at Botucatu. Phenom 300 has completed schedule of full-model wind tunnel tests at TsAGI in Russia.

GROB restarted spn flight testing

GROB restarted spn flight testing after suspending program due to Nov 29 crash of aircraft #2; certification is 1Q08.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Private VLJ air taxi operator DAYJET gets money

DayJet yesterday announced the receipt of $50 million in capital resulting from the completion of its third round of private equity financing. The company said the money will allow it to launch its delayed on-demand VLJ service, to be based in Florida, in the second quarter.

Cessna to ramp up Citation X production

Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. company, will increase production of its Citation X business jet over the next five years. "Orders for the Citation X have been increasing and, as a result, we will be increasing production more than 65 percent from 2006 to 2010 to meet the growing demand for this popular aircraft," said Roger Whyte, senior vice president of sales and marketing."More than 260 Citation Xs have been delivered to customers around the world and the backlog for the aircraft extends well into 2008. The fleet has amassed almost 1 million flight hours over its 10-year history. Cessna Aircraft Company delivered 1,239 aircraft in 2006, of that total, Cessna delivered 307 business jets and expects to deliver 375 jets in 2007.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

SILVERJET: First results of operations

Silverjet flew 2,911 passengers in February, its first full month of operations. Load factor was 45% excluding passengers on promotional or discounted fares. CEO Lawrence Hunt said the all-business-class airline's forward bookings and cash flow "are substantially ahead of our initial expectations."

Monday, March 05, 2007

International increase for business jet market

The international market for business jets experienced sales of US$18.8 billion during 2006, an increase of 24.1% from the previous year, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

The market boom proved lucrative for aviation plane manufacturers, with shipments of 4042 units identified last year, compared to 3580 aircraft in 2005. This was the first time sales exceeded 4000 since 1982.

"Worldwide economic growth, a strong export market and increased use of general aviation for both business and personal use all played a part in this outstanding year for general aviation," said John Grisik, chairman, GAMA.

The review attributes the growing international market as a factor for the increase in deliveries. Gamma also identified that despite the stability of the North American market, US general aviation manufacturers have reported a 60% increase in exports in 2006.

All categories across the aviation manufacture sector are said to have achieved shipments increase by double digits in 2006. Specifically, piston plane makers shipped 2750 piston aircraft, an 11.6% increase from 2005, with recognition being attributed to manufactures, Cessna Aircraft and Cirrus Design.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

...and first US A318 Elite customer

Investment company Petters Group Worldwide (PGW) has become the first US customer for the A318 Elite following its order for one aircraft. Minneapolis, Minnesota-based PGW plans to use the aircraft for corporate flights within the USA, and to Asia and Europe.

The deal takes the orderbook for Airbus's Corporate Jet family this year to nine aircraft.

VIP buyer for Airbus A380

Flight International reports that Airbus has received its first preliminary order from an unidentified customer for a VIP-configured A380 ultra-large airliner.

Details of the arrangement are vague, but Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy told Flight's online news service Air Transport Intelligence that he has a letter of intent to supply a VIP version of the jet. "The problem is that when a VIP customer wants one, he wants it tomorrow," he says. "He doesn't want to have to wait."

Leahy will not say whether, or when, the agreement is likely to be confirmed and has provided no information about the nature or location of the potential customer. Airbus recently referred to the corporate version of the A380 as the "Flying Palace".

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Lufthansa Private Jet from success to success

Lufthansa Private Jet, the exclusive top-end service for individual and flexible air travel, has written another chapter in its success story. In 2006, the number of flights operated in this segment rose by 13 per cent. Up to ten private aircraft were booked daily during the year. The highest demand accounting for about 60 per cent of the total came from point-to-point connections to around 1,000 destinations in Europe and the Russian Federation. But the number of private jet flights offered in combination with long-haul services through the Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich hubs has also increased significantly since mid-2006. Customer satisfaction scoring over 90 per cent shows how positively customers are responding to the Lufthansa Private Jet service. "We are delighted that our innovative product has become so firmly established in the market so soon after its launch. Lufthansa Private Jet, offering customers à la carte mobility, has meantime become a firm fixture in our full-service strategy," observed Thierry Antinori, Executive Vice President Marketing and Sales at Lufthansa Passenger Airlines. "Our customers appreciate especially the opportunity of enjoying the exclusive Lufthansa First-Class amenities on the Private Jet service and making their journey even more comfortable."The accord with NetJets is consequently being extended for a further five-year term and cooperation intensified with the private jet provider. From now on, more jets will be on call, daily, in order to accommodate increased demand for the Lufthansa Private Jet service. In future, the Falcon 2000, which seats up to ten passengers in comfort, will also be available to customers daily.The Lufthansa Private Jet service is on offer at an attractive fixed price, depending on the flight route and including all charges and costs. Guests flying with the jets travel free. The entire itinerary is coordinated by an event manager. A personal service team is available for customers, round-the-clock. In-flight catering and entertainment are tailored to individual requirements and passengers have full use at any time of First-Class services laid on at the airport by Lufthansa, SWISS or Lufthansa partners.

Elite Traveler's 2007 Top 5 Private Jet Trends Report: Big Jets are Getting Bigger, Big Name Chefs are whipping up Truffles & Fois Gras at 30,000 feet

While private jets are getting bigger, a new fleet of little jets (a.k.a very light jets) is carving out an explosive niche as the new rich man's taxi. Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine, is tracking these and other emerging private jet travel trends of the world's super affluent. Now, the magazine reveals its latest report on the top five private jet trends in 2007 and offers a voyeuristic glimpse into the future of private flight.
"Truly, only the sky is the limit for today's elite traveler," says Douglas Gollan, president and editor-in-chief. "As big jets get even bigger, big names in everything from interiors to cuisine will play a role."

Elite Traveler's Top Five Private Jet Trends to watch in 2007 are:

  1. The Rich Man's Taxi -- Very light jets will change the way the wealthy
    travel as they hop from their luxury villa to a nearby city for dinner
    and then are back by midnight. "Very light jets are the car service
    of the future," says Gollan.
  2. Bigger Really is Better -- Private jets are getting bigger as
    individuals place orders for jets the size of a 737 and even larger.
    On board, stand-up bars, media rooms, sound-proof game rooms for kids
    and master bedrooms replace old-fashioned first class seating.
    "Customization is key," says Gollan. "We're going to see everyone
    getting involved -- from architects to high-end designers like Versace
    -- in order to give private jet travelers what they want for their
    penthouse in the sky."
  3. Private Jet Palates -- Pre-packaged meals have given way to haute
    dining at high altitudes
    . Wolfgang Puck, David Bouley and David Burke
    are among the top chefs crafting fois gras-filled menus and providing
    special gourmet services for private jet travelers. Some private jet
    companies are partnering with local top-rated restaurants, while some
    owners are simply opting to fly their personal chef along.
  4. Super Rich Sports Fans -- Increasingly, private jet travelers will cut
    the line, at least the airport, when heading to sporting and major
    events such as Art Basel in Miami, the Super Bowl, the Olympics and
    the America's Cup races. More and more of the Super Rich are taking
    their jets to big sporting events.
  5. The Uber Gift Card -- The gift of private jet travel is on the rise,
    with more and more people buying jet cards as gifts for friends and
    . "These work a lot like your debit card, deducting hours as
    they're used," says Gollan.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Gol B737 and ExcelAire Legacy 600 accident: cockpit voice recorder transcript released

Cockpit voice recorder transcript from the ExcelAire Legacy 600 that collided with a Gol 737-800 in midair and resulted in the deaths of all 154 aboard the airliner, was published yesterday by Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil's largest newspaper. It indicated that the Legacy pilots had difficulty communicating with ATC throughout the flight. "I've got a problem with the radio here," one said, according to the Associated Press. While the pilots may be found criminally liable, Brazilian ATC has come under considerable scrutiny in recent months as communication system failures have led to delays and cancellations. Following the collision, the pilots complained they had been abandoned by ATC, the transcript revealed.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dassault Set Record Sales Year In 2006 For Falcon Business Jets

Falcon 7X Passes Another Sales Milestone

At his company's annual financial analyst meeting held Thursday, Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO Charles Edelstenne announced record results for the second consecutive year for Falcon business jets.

A total of 158 firm orders were received worldwide in 2006. This includes a $1.1 billion US order from NetJets Europe for 24 Falcon 7X tri-jets, the largest order ever for business jets in Europe. Dassault Aviation 2006 sales were 3.3 billion Euros with Falcon business jets ($4.32 billion US), accounting for 62% of total consolidated sales.

"Driven by growth outside of North America, the worldwide market for business jets remained impressive in 2006," said Edelstenne. "It wasn’t long ago that 40% of our sales came from outside the US but that number has grown to more than 60% driven this year primarily by Western Europe. It’s important to recognize that the US market has not weakened, other markets have gained strength."

Growth was also particularly strong in Brazil, India and the Middle East. At the end of 2006, Dassault had a total backlog of more than 300 aircraft. Over 80 aircraft will be delivered in 2007 compared to 61 in 2006. Delivery rates will continue to increase in 2008.

"A substantial fuel efficiency advantage and consistently superior retained values continue to be the force behind the success of our Falcon sales efforts," said John Rosanvallon, President and CEO of Dassault Falcon. "2007 promises to be another strong year for Dassault Falcon driven largely by these advantages."

The sales success of the Falcon 7X continued in 2006 and into 2007, with over 150 firm orders booked since the announcement of the program. This makes the Falcon 7X the most successful launch of a business jet ever in terms of sales dollar value. The next available delivery position is in the second half of 2011.

The Falcon 7X flight test and certification program accumulated 1520 flight test hours over 543 flights, and is now complete. Certification from both the EASA and FAA are expected soon with first deliveries in the second quarter of 2007.

In 2006, Dassault Falcon’s Little Rock (AR) Completion Center completed further expansion to accommodate growth, including 99,000 square feet of completion space that has been dedicated to Falcon 7X completions. Employment is expected to increase by about 200 over the coming years to meet the unprecedented demand for the 5,950 nm business jet.

Michael Waltrip Racing buys private regional jet

MWR AVIATION (Michael Waltrip Racing), NC purchased ex-Lufthansa Cityline CRJ100 (msn 7021) from Bombardier. Michael Waltrip Racing, originally formed in 1995, is a NASCAR team owned and operated by two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip.
Let's bet this airliner (which can normally seat 50 passengers) will be converted and operated in a smaller, more comfortable VIP or corporate shuttle configuration.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

EOS Airlines: new CEO and new frequency

Eos Airlines named former American Airlines and Royal Caribbean Cruises executive Jack Williams CEO, effective immediately. He replaces interim CEO David Pottruck, who will continue as chairman.
Separately, Eos will add a third daily all-business-class New York JFK-London Stansted frequency "during peak travel days." The expansion is effective April 15.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Two may buy private A380 superjumbos

Airbus, maker of the delayed A380 superjumbo, is in talks with two potential buyers of private versions of the $300 million plane that the company calls the "flying palace."

"They are not customers until they sign, but there are two very interested parties," Richard Gaona, vice president of Airbus' executive and private aviation unit, said in an interview Monday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. "It's going to be a private jet," Gaona said, adding that one of the customers was in the Middle East.

The A380 is at least two years late, and spending on the program will result in an $8.2 billion cash shortfall through 2010, Airbus said in October. Airbus' parent, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., said Jan. 17 that the unit will record a loss for 2006, the first in its history.

"Airbus could sell 400 Flying Palaces and it won't save the program," said Doug McVitie, managing director of Arran Aerospace, a Dinan, France-based consulting company. "Airbus won't make a lot of money on sales like this because these guys want everything done their own way, so with highly customized planes, you reduce by a large percentage the number of components Airbus could provide."

Airbus began offering its jets configured as business aircraft in 1999, initially using mainly the A319, normally a 124-seat jet. Since 1999 it has doubled the sale of its corporate jets and wants to tap increasing demand, particularly in the Middle East.

The plane maker is expanding from the Airbus Corporate Jetliner, based on the A319, to bigger planes, including the widebody A330 and A340, "and soon the A380 flying palace," it said on its Web site.

The Middle Eastern market is one of the most important in the world as a result of the booming economies of the oil-rich Persian Gulf states, Gaona said. He estimated global demand to be 30 to 35 private aircraft a year, from the 20 aircraft Airbus sold in 2006 and 15 in 2005. Airbus has sold 80 private jets to date.

"Most probably the demand will keep at 30 aircraft a year and I think this is already a good number in the market," Gaona said. The Middle East will represent 30 percent to 40 percent of private jet sales.

Gaona also said Monday that Airbus has won two orders for the private "VIP" versions of its long-haul A340, one for the A340-500 and one for the A340-300. He said one of the buyers is from the Middle East, but he declined to be more specific. "It's too confidential," he said.

Airbus' sales of the four-engine A340 have dwindled in the past two years as customers choose either Airbus' two-engine A330 or The Boeing Co.'s 777, which also has two engines. The additional engines on the A340 increase fuel costs by roughly 10 percent per trip.

Private aviation in the Middle East, the world's third-largest market after the U.S. and Europe, is expected to continue growing at 10 percent to 12 percent annually and be valued at around $800 million in 2012, double its current worth, said Ali al-Naqbi, chairman of the Dubai-based Middle East Business Aviation Association.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Here come the private widebodies

The superrich are increasingly buying widebody planes, remodeled to their own preferences for luxurious living aloft

Think a luxuriously appointed private Gulfstream or Lear jet is the ultimate way to fly? Not any more. Increasingly, the world's superrich are buying big, big planes -- the same kind of widebody Boeing (BA) and Airbus jets the airlines use on long-haul flights -- and outfitting them with everything from his-and-hers bathrooms to onboard movie theaters. "Private jets are becoming flying apartments," says Jacques Pierrejean, a French designer who specializes in aircraft interiors.

These airborne penthouses cost plenty. New widebodies, such as the Airbus A340 and the Boeing 777, list for well over $100 million. Even the oldest secondhand widebodies cost at least $10 million. A customized interior adds $25 million to $30 million, says Edése Doret, a New York-based designer who has outfitted several big planes for private use.

With price tags like that, it's no surprise that only five or six such planes are sold each year. But that's enough to provide a steady business for Pierrejean, Doret, and a handful of other aircraft-interior specialists. Their client lists -- held in strictest confidentiality -- range from Middle Eastern sheikhs and Russian oil barons to Western corporate moguls and Hollywood stars.

Several trends are fueling the push for bigger planes. Because of increased concern over security, especially post-September 11, some businesspeople now use their aircraft as a base of operations on overseas business trips. Rather than going to a hotel or office after landing, they just stay onboard.

The planes are outfitted with computers, fax machines, and high-speed Internet connections, so work can continue uninterrupted. Guests are invited to business meetings in onboard conference rooms, which a widebody plane can accommodate far more easily than a smaller aircraft.

Time-pressed executives and celebrities also like to bring spouses and friends along when they travel. The widebodies have space for several guest rooms, as well as entertainment facilities such as big-screen TVs and video-game consoles. Not all the fun is family-style: New York designer Doret says one of his clients wants to install a pole in his plane so he can watch strippers dance.

Another motivation, it seems, is one-upmanship. "As soon as someone gets one of these [big planes], others want it," Doret says. So it's not surprising that some clients are already eyeing the biggest plane of all: the doubledecker Airbus A380, scheduled to enter service late next year and designed to carry up to 800 passengers.

Pierrejean has done preliminary designs for a wealthy Middle Eastern client who wants to buy an A380 for personal use. Among the amenities he has requested are an onboard movie theater, a prayer room, and a discotheque. With features like that, why bother landing?

New Airbus Corporate Jet Orders: two A320s and two A340VIPs!

AIRBUS booked orders from ROYAL AIR FORCE OF OMAN for two A320CJs with V2500s for troop deployment and VIP transport, and from undisclosed customers for a A340-500 VIP with Trents and a A340-300 VIP with CFM56s.

COMLUX orders new business jets

COMLUX, Switzerland (the company that operates Michael Schumacher's private jet) ordered two more A318 Elites with CFM56s, and has now ordered five (largest customer). It expects to take delivery of the first A318 Elite in 2Q07 after completion by LUFTHANSA TECHNIK at Hamburg.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

They're powerful, they're mysterious, they're sexy: here come the wealthy arab business jet owners!

The image is a fond 1980s cliché... a tall arab man with a dark beard, very masculine facial features and a white cloth (kendora) slowly walks toward an expensive business jet. Popularized in the late 1970s as the oil 'nouveaux riches' expanded their influence to the West, the image of extremely wealthy sheikhs has evolved very little... take off the round dark shades, replace the Hawker jet by a Boeing Business Jet or better yet, by a Boeing B747 VIP and here they are again, at the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) event.

Inspite of the disproportional number of business/private jets in the region, this time the wealthy sheikhs don't fly; all major aircraft manufacturers converge to Dubai and spare no expense to showcase their best products to this very capable market segment.

From falcons (the bird, a traditional symbol and hobby in some of the Gulf countries) to huge airports, to business jets, many local leaders seem to have a particular interest in flight. Usually very mysterious, I will briefly introduce you to five of the more public Gulf aviation leaders. I shall start tomorrow with Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saif Al-Nahayan.

New business aircraft to debut at MEBA

The Kestrel, a new business aircraft prototype made by the UK's Farnborough Aircraft Corporation Limited (FACL), will make its first ever industry appearance at the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) event in Dubai on January 31st and February 1st.

FACL intends the aircraft to be manufactured at Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Company's (GAMCO) new state-of-the-art facilities in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi and marketed regionally by The Gulf Aircraft Partnership - a joint venture between GAMCO and FACL.
Some of the carbon composite and metal parts for the aircraft were made in Abu Dhabi by GAMCO and are incorporated in the prototype.
'The Kestrel has been designed to bridge the gap between turboprops and substantially more expensive business jets, redefining its class and challenging the new generation of very light jets to match the Kestrel's all round capabilities,' said Richard Blain, Commercial Director - FACL.

'With direct operating costs falling well under $1 per statute mile, the Kestrel is a valuable and cost effective proposition to charter operators, corporations and governments seeking to increase productivity and flexibility.'
MEBA, organised by Fairs & Exhibitions (F&E) on behalf of the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), will feature a static display with an impressive line-up of 31 aircraft. The event has received strong international support and features 90 exhibitors from 20 countries.

'Aircraft manufacturing in the Middle East is a giant step forward for the regional aviation industry and demonstrates that the region's business aviation sector is in for rapid growth,'
said Alison Weller, Aerospace Director, F&E.
Meanwhile the MEBA conference programme is due to explore some of the hottest topics facing the industry regionally, including the emergence of very light jets which herald a new era in aircraft and engine technology, pilot provisions and civil aviation criteria for business aircraft training in the GCC and Middle East.

More from Dubai: Royal Bank of Scotland to finance two Gulfstream IV-SP aircraft for National Air Services

The Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS) announced today that it has agreed to finance the purchase of two Gulfstream IV-SP aircraft for National Air Services (NAS) of Saudi Arabia.

The announcement was made during the first annual Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) conference & exhibition in Dubai. The aircraft purchase is valued at over US$50 million and represents the first such collaboration between these two market leaders. RBS is one of the ten largest banks worldwide, and NAS is the largest and fastest-growing private aviation company in the Middle East.
Donal Boylan, Head of RBS Aerospace & Defence, which includes their Corporate Aircraft & Superyacht Financing Business, said: 'RBS has already demonstrated its commitment to corporate and VIP aviation in the region, with a number of aircraft financed and several others in the pipeline. Both NAS and RBS expect this market to grow significantly over the next five years and, by working together, we look forward to enjoying an important share of that growth.'
Taher Agueel, Chief Executive Officer of NAS, said: 'This agreement marks another significant step in the ongoing expansion of National Air Services. We continue to diversify our business portfolio and move into new markets, and the acquisition of two new long-range Gulfstream business jets will further those dual aims.'
He added: 'We are extremely pleased to make this announcement during MEBA, one of the region's premier industry events, and in partnership with RBS, a global leader in commercial and corporate Aircraft Finance. Indeed, we see this agreement as just the first in what we expect will be a long and mutually beneficial relationship.'
RBS, as part of its international growth strategy, is currently opening four offices in the region, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The bank is already ranked first in the Middle East in Project and Export Finance, and is a global leader in this category as well as in Asset Finance. Worldwide, RBS holds the number one, two and three positions, respectively, in rail locomotive leasing, commercial shipping and commercial airliner financing. RBS has had private banking operations through its Coutts brand in the GCC, whose regional offices are in Dubai.

NAS, which was established in Riyadh in 1999, is Saudi Arabia's only privately owned air transportation services company, operating a fleet of over 30 aircraft, making it by far the largest and fastest-growing such operation in the Middle East. The two aircraft being purchased will be delivered within the coming weeks and will support its thriving private aviation solutions, including NetJets Middle East (Fractional Aircraft Ownership & Leasing), Aircraft Management and Aircraft Charter, along with its unique hybrid solutions program.

His Highness Sexy Sheikh Ahmed unveils Middle East's largest Executive Jet Centre at MEBA

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman, Dubai World Central - Dubai Aviation Corporation, Government of Dubai, has unveiled the masterplan for the Middle East's largest executive jet centre at the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) exhibition at Airport Expo Dubai.

HH unveiled a model of the world class facility which will be among the industry's best competing with Van Nuys in California, Teterboro in New York, Le Bourget in France and Farnborough in the UK.
The Executive Jet Centre will be built at the US$ 33 billion Dubai World Central, the 140 square kilometre urban aviation city taking shape at Jebel Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, home to the dedicated flight centre designed to be a one-stop centre for business jet operations.
The Executive Jet Centre will be built adjacent to the Dubai World Central International Airport (JXB), which will be the world's largest airport being the size of Chicago's O'Hare and London Heathrow combined.
'Going by recent industry trends, the Middle East's burgeoning business aviation sector will see further growth and we need to be prepared,' said Sheikh Ahmed.
'Dubai World Central will lead the way in the region by providing world-class executive jet facilities that will rival the very best in the world.'
Global interest in the facility has been high, according to Khalifa Al Zaffin, Director of Projects and Engineering, Department of Civil Aviation, Government of Dubai.
'The Executive Jet Centre will be one of the biggest in the world in terms of expected traffic with a handling capacity in excess of 100,000 aircraft movements a year - a statistic big enough to attract all the important players worldwide,' explained Al Zaffin.
'The facility is expected to be operational by end-2008. It will include a dedicated duty-free, business centre, fitness room, food outlets and crew rest areas. The Executive Flight Centre will also feature a specific area for executive helicopter and heli-taxi operations.
Work on the first JXB runway, due for completion end of this year, is 50% complete. The 4.5 kilometre CAT III runway is designed to handle the new generation Airbus A380 aircraft and will enable JXB, and its adjacent Dubai Logistics City to commence operations as the world's largest freighter airport and logistics hub.
The US$ 8.1 billion JXB has been designed to handle in excess of 120 million passengers and 12 million tons of cargo annually.

Dubai-based 'Elite Jets' announces fleet expansion as regional demand for private air travel continues to grow

Elite Jets, one of the Middle East region's leading luxury private jet operators, has announced the latest aircraft to join its growing fleet. Elite Jets has just taken delivery of a Dassault Falcon 900B large size, long-range business jet, on behalf of a private customer.
The company's current fleet also includes two Raytheon Hawker 850 aircraft and a Raytheon Hawker 1000.
The announcement comes as Elite Jets' charter operations continue to expand strongly, with the number of charter flight bookings doubling in 2006, compared to 2005, and as the overall number of private jet movements at Dubai International Airport continues to rise. According to Executive Flight Services, there was a five per cent increase in the number of private jet movements at Dubai International Airport in 2006, compared to 2005.
Paras Dhamecha, Managing Director of Elite Jets, comments: 'We are delighted to announce the addition of the Dassault Falcon 900B to the Elite Jets fleet; this aircraft extends and diversifies our operational programme into mid-large business jet aircraft, working with a new manufacturer and complementing the Raytheon Hawker aircraft that we already operate. The demand for private air travel continues to grow in the region and this is reflected in the demand for our charter, as well as aircraft management, services.
'This demand runs across business and leisure travel, and we are generating a lot of interest in our charter operations for travel to the major business centres of the GCC, North Africa, Asia and Europe - with the CIS region a current hot route for us. In addition, we are generating significant interest in the corporate sector, with regionally based companies choosing to book block hours with us.'
At MEBA 2007, Elite Jets will present its complete range of aircraft sales, management and charter services, alongside Raytheon Aircraft Company (the world's leading business and special-mission aircraft manufacturer) which Elite Jets represents exclusively in the UAE.
'Our working relationship with Raytheon Aircraft Company has been very successful over the last three years, including joint flight demonstrations and cooperation at the Dubai International Air Show and we expect MEBA to be another successful joint event for both companies,' adds Paras Dhamecha.
Elite Jets will focus on its sales and management services, which can be tailored to suit individual needs; the company's commitment to making the purchase, ownership and management of private business jets as simple and convenient as possible is proving successful in the corporate sector in the region, which is finding the concept of aircraft ownership increasingly attractive.
Elite Jets and Raytheon Aircraft Company will be welcoming clients and prospective clients to their shared chalet at the event. In addition, the presentation will include a range of five Raytheon Aircraft Company Hawker Beechcraft models, as part of a static display, featuring a Hawker 1000, Hawker 850XP, Hawker 400XP, Beechcraft Premier 1A, and Beechcraft King Air 350.
Caron Gledhill, Sales & Marketing Director at Elite Jets, comments:
'MEBA 2007 puts the spotlight on the business aviation industry in the region and creates a unique opportunity for Elite Jets to meet and network with key contacts. We have successfully secured Raytheon aircraft sales with buyers in the region and have taken these aircraft under management for the new owners. It's a partnership that is proving very effective and we expect to use MEBA as a means of meeting prospects together.'

In addition to its aircraft sales programme, Elite Jets has already built a solid business jet charter operation, working with various organizations operating in a range of sectors including banking, oil and gas, real estate and many other business fields. The company enjoys a strong working partnership with regional and international aviation brokers and, during the past year, has witnessed growth from the luxury business and leisure travel agencies. 'Our charter operation creates an excellent shop window in which to showcase a range of aircraft to prospective buyers within the region,' adds Caron Gledhill. 'We understand our corporate and leisure client needs and our ability to provide five-star service alongside our luxury aircraft, is proving to be a successful formula.'

Monday, January 29, 2007

Lufthansa extends NetJets collaboration

Lufthansa said it is extending its Lufthansa Private Jet cooperation with NetJets for a further five years after a successful 2006 in which the number of Private Jet flights rose 13%. Up to 10 private corporate jets were booked daily last year, with highest demand--60% of the total--coming from point-to-point connections to around 1,000 destinations in Europe and the Russian Federation. LH said "more jets will be on call" to accommodate increased demand and it is adding a Falcon 2000 capable of seating 10 passengers to its offering.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Google's Founders Boeing 767 Crashes... in a legal fight!

When billionaires and Google co-founders fly, they fly in style, and in a Boeing 767 private jet. The Google duo choose a 767-200 model that usually carries up to 180 passengers to be their private airplane. And because as far as performance and size were concerned, little change could be brought to the machine, Sergey Brin and Larry Page opted to transform the interior into a flying playground. For this, Blue City Holdings LLC, the company that actually owns the Boeing, hired Leslie Jennings in 2005, a very exclusive aviation designer.

The designer's job was to oversee the plane's interior redecoration according with Sergey and Larry's specifications. The two had elaborate and eccentric tastes from king size beds in their private rooms on board to an exercise space, a lounge complete with dinning area and piano and hammocks hanging from the ceiling.

When Blue City renounced Jennings’s contract in 2005 on grounds of incompetence, the high-end designer filed a complaint against Blue City and Gore Design Completions Ltd. for a reported $200.000 unreceived payments.

The legal battle carries on even at this time, with accusations on both sides and Brin and Page in the middle. Although the contract had a nondisclosure clause, details on the agreement surfaced following the litigation. It seems that the eccentric Google Duo had a budget of 10 millions dollars set aside for retrofitting the Boeing but that they eventually overspent. In a related statement, Google representatives said that the company will not reimburse its co-founders for the costs.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Frequent Traveler: Comparing business-class-only flights across the Atlantic

"I have seen the future and it works." Lincoln Steffens's remark back in 1921 about the Soviet Union was hardly an auspicious prediction. But I am tempted to borrow the epithet to describe the new generation of business-class airlines, with business jets or reconfigured airliners, on trans-Atlantic routes.
I recall an acrimonious argument with Bob Crandall, the iconic former chief executive of American Airlines, some 20 years ago when I waxed lyrical about all-business-class flights with small jets on long "thin" routes, such as Nice to Atlanta, Birmingham to Minneapolis; what I like to call "regional long haul."
Bob was dismissive: "It won't work; you have to fill the back of the plane with economy passengers," he said.
What we might have agreed upon is that niche carriers might one day exploit lucrative business markets, especially between Europe and North America. Arguably, it is the next best thing to riding your own jet.
Fares are typically pitched at one- third to one-half that of business class with major airlines, and passengers may get to use private terminals at either end of the route, just like a corporate jet, allowing them to arrive 30 minutes or so before a flight, instead of shuffling in line through immigration and security. The downside is that you have far less choice of flight times, and if your plane should be canceled or delayed, you can be terminally stuck.

Here is how the start-up business class carriers compare:

[] Silverjet (, which started a daily service between London Luton and Newark airport in New Jersey (that serves New York) on Thursday, operates a Boeing 767 with 100 seats that convert to 6 foot 3 inch, or 1.9 meter, lie-flat beds with individual reading lights.
There is a "quiet zone" on night flights, separate women-only lavatories, more than 100 hours of videos, noise-reduction headphones, and food and drinks individually served on request. On the ground, you can use a private air terminal at Luton with a 30-minute check-in time. Flights depart 10 a.m. London time, arriving in New York at 1 p.m.; from Newark, flights depart 7:30 p.m., arriving in London at 7:10 a.m.
Round-trip fares (for travel in March) are: £722, or about $1,432, in its "saver" category, £922 for "standard," and £1,340 for "flexible" — plus a £77.30 tax. (There's a promotional round-trip fare of £799 until June 30.)

[] Eos ( operates a twice-daily service between London Stansted and New York JFK, with Boeing 757s reconfigured to carry 48 passengers, each getting 21 square feet, or 1.95 square meters, of personal space, and seats that recline into 78-inch flat beds. A second adjoining seat allows colleagues to converse face-to-face comfortably or to work or dine together. Other amenities include personal DVD players, with Boss noise- canceling headphones, a flexible meal service, use of lounges at both ends, and fast-track security.
Flights depart London at 10:40 a.m. and 7 p.m., arriving New York at 1:25 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.; from JFK, flights depart at 7:15 p.m. and 8:55 p.m., arriving London at 6:40 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.
Round-trip fares (for travel in March) are: £1,766 "restricted"; £3,266 "unrestricted" — plus taxes.

[] MAXjet ( operates daily flights between London Stansted and New York JFK with 102- seat Boeing 767-200ERs.
(MAXjet also flies between London and Washington, and Las Vegas, although the suspension of its Washington service until May 23 is not an encouraging sign.) Passengers get a conventional business-class seat with a 60-inch pitch and partial recline, and private lounges at each end.
Round-trip fares (for travel in March) are: £916 (including tax and surcharges).

[] Elysair aka L'Avion ( started a six-day a week service between Paris Orly-Sud and New York-Newark this month with a Boeing 757-200 with 90 seats in a 2 by 2 configuration. Seats have a 147-degree recline and a one- meter, or about a 3.3 foot, seat-pitch. I booked a notional round-trip flight in March for €1,000, or about $1,300, (without tax), benefiting from an introductory price for the first 1,000 tickets sold. Regular fares range from €1,600 (with tax and surcharges) to €3,000, depending on how full the plane is when you book.

[] Lufthansa pioneered business- class-only flights across the North Atlantic in June 2002 between Düsseldorf and New York with 48-seat Boeing Business Jets (reconfigured 737s) and later, Düsseldorf and Chicago, and Munich and New York, all at normal business-class prices, with 48- seat Airbus A319LR business jets.

[] SWISS started an all-business-class service between Zurich and New York-Newark with a 56-seat Boeing Business Jet in January 2005 with lie- flat sleeper seats, at normal business- class fares.

[] KLM operates 44-seat Boeing Business Jets between Amsterdam and Houston.

[] British Airways quoted £2,090 (including tax and charges) for the cheapest (restricted) round-trip, business-class ticket from London Heathrow to New York JFK for travel in March. Air France quoted €2,386 for a similar round-trip business-class ticket from Paris Charles de Gaulle to New York JFK for the same dates in March.
Many travelers have learned to their cost that the price of an air ticket that they have bought online can just about double when it comes to the final amount charged. According to the London-based travel agents Trailfinders (, there are 453 different taxes that passengers may have to pay, depending on when and where they book a flight and where they are traveling. Taxes range from the U.S. animal & plant health inspection tax and the British air passenger duty to the Sydney noise tax and the Canadian airport improvement fee.
The British air passenger duty will go up by £5 to £40 per ticket on Thursday. Most airlines raised fares as soon as this increase was announced on Dec. 6. But some are demanding extra payment for tickets booked months in advance. Ryanair has announced that all passengers will receive an e-mail regarding payment, and if they have not paid the extra tax by the day before their flight, they will not be allowed to travel. British Airways says it will absorb the extra costs for passengers who booked before Dec. 6.
But not all airlines agree how they should charge. An EasyJet spokesman said, "It's absolutely chaotic. There's going to be a lot of uncertainty on Feb. 1." Be prepared to pay extra tax when you travel from a British airport.
The new air passenger duty beginning in February is: economy class in Europe, £10; business class in Europe, £20; economy on long-haul flights, £40; business or first class on long-haul, £80.
Trailfinders takes the example of a British Airways round-trip economy flight from London to New York. Taxes make up 55 percent (£156) of the advertised £279 fare (valid from Thursday). The largest components are: fuel surcharge & security tax, £75; U.K. air passenger duty, £40; U.S. international transportation tax, £15.40. (Roger Collis in The International Herald Tribune)

Poland seeks VIP aircraft

Poland has launched a tender for VIP aircraft to replace its Soviet-era Yakovlev YAK-40s. The Ministry of Defence is seeking to buy six aircraft, three of which will be configured to accomodate at least 11 passengers, including four in a dedicated VIP area.The three remaining aircraft will each have room for at least 15 passengers. The range requirement is a minimum of 5,000km (2,700nm), although 90% of operations are expected to be within Europe.The aircraft will be operated by the Polish Airforce's special air transport wing from Warsaw's Chopin airbase.

Quebec will soon seek tenders to replace Government jet

French-language daily La Presse reports that the Quebec Government will seek tenders to replace an 18-year-old ambulance aircraft.
Quebec Government's air transport arm (Service aérien gouvernemental) operates 20 aircraft, including 14 water bombers, 3 helicopters, and 3 transport/ambulance planes (Challenger 601-1A, Challenger 601-3A, Dash 8). The Challenger 601-1A is an ambulance aircraft, used for medical ferries. The Challenger 601-3A and the Dash 8 can be used for medical evacuations when the 601-1A is unavailable. They are otherwise chartered by the Government to fly the Premier, MPs and government freight.
Furthermore, the newspaper reports that Quebec Premier's air travel bill averages 10,000$ a week on frequent domestic legs. Jean Charest flies twice weekly between Montréal and Québec on one of the two Government-owned Challengers. In certain circumstances, private companies as well as international airlines are used.

...and Silverjet launches All-Business-Class operations

Silverjet, the London Luton-based all-business-class carrier, launched operations yesterday with its maiden flight to Newark. It said sales "are comfortably ahead of management's expectations." It will start a second daily LTN-EWR flight in July and is "investigating further long-haul route opportunities."

ANA starts All-Business-Class flights

All Nippon Airways (ANA) will launch a 36-seat, all-business-class 737-700ER on the Tokyo Narita-Mumbai route Sept. 1, a move that underscores a focus on premium traffic that is a highlight of the corporate plan unveiled yesterday in Tokyo. The plan focuses on frequency, yield, capacity decreases and more daily services to China, which will see ANA's first 737-700 BusinessJet enter Nagoya-Guangzhou service on March 1. That aircraft is configured with Club ANA and Premium Economy seats.

Celebrity private jets series: Jay Z aka Sean Carter

Sean Carter aka Jay Z, musician, businessman, producer, marketer, Playboy and ladies man.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Business jets in India: dispelling the myths

Plane truths
When the cynical gun-runner Nicholas Cage wanted to impress Bridget Moynahan in Lord of War, he got a private jet to fly her out of a remote resort. That essentially is what a private aircraft enables you to do — go anywhere, anytime you want to. The flexibility is also the reason that the aircraft is popular with companies around the world.
Internationally, biz jet sales are soaring. After decades of slow growth, this year has seen several Indian businesses going for the top of the line aircraft like Bombardier’s Global XRS and other large business jets.
Unlike the commercial aircraft market, which is split between just two players, the business jet market has a lot more competition. The biggest players in this market are Bombardier, Cessna, Gulfstream and Raytheon. Other players with a significant presence are France-based Dassault with its Falcon aircraft and regional jet manufacturer Embraer.
In India, corporate jets were earlier used by large business houses like the Tatas, Birlas and Reliance, who operated the aircraft and helicopters largely to ferry the brass to the remote sites where the factories were located. The primary change now is that small- and medium-sized companies are joining the club, there is also a bias towards larger, faster jets with intercontinental range. The change is partly a result of strong financial results and partly a requirement made necessary by growth — financial as well as geographical, say industry sources.
Some companies that earlier chartered planes from others have now gradually decided it makes sense to acquire their own planes. New bizjet owners include the likes of GMR Group, Punj Lloyd, Hindustan Construction and Jaiprakash Associates.
“The efficient use of business jets depends a lot on the extent of utilisation of the planes,” says PK Ratta, vice-president Raymond Aviation. The Singhania group company has been in the business of chartering aircraft for the past decade and has a fleet of three helicopters and two business jets, an HS-125 and the latest — a Challenger CL 604.
The aircraft are used by the company’s top management as well as chartered out. The Challenger, for example, is being hired for Rs 3.15 lakh per hour. Aircraft operations have a high fixed cost in the form of salaries, insurance and regular maintenance costs, says Mr Ratta. Bizjet owners often pay the same salaries to pilots and engineers as the large airlines.
The cost to company for an experienced pilot is now about Rs 50 lakh per annum, and the commanders are difficult to find even at these salaries, say company sources. The other major business group chartering planes are the Tatas, which have two Falcon 2000s available for chartered flights.
A look at the itineries of the CEOs using business jets shows a huge flexibility that a personal plane can give the top management.
Citing an example of the flexibility, Gautam Singhania of the Raymond group says, his company has joint ventures in several parts of the world and connections offered by commercial airlines are often not convenient. He can, for example, fly directly from smaller cities in India to any place in Europe, saving a day by not having to transit through Mumbai or Delhi. Much of the flying in the high-end aircraft is on international routes.
At the very top end, some corporates like Kingfisher and Reliance are going in for large business aircraft, that are actually commercial planes configured for business use. The two aircraft available in this segment, both with a sticker price of about $50m (Rs 240 cr), are the Boeing Business Jet and the Airbus Corporate Jet.
Four of these were sold in India in the past one year. Kingfisher Airlines and RIL have ordered the ACJs and the government of India has taken delivery of two BBJs to be used by the Prime Minister and top guns in the defence ministry. The lavishly configured planes can fly anywhere in the world with one stop, have the latest electronic gizmos for constant communication with the ground, and are a class apart from conventional business jets. Both Boeing and Airbus say they hope to find more customers for these in India.
Indian software majors, though, seem to be a class apart — almost absent from this market despite their obvious wealth. Given their spread across the world and within India, it is only a matter of time before they also get into the market, say industry sources. State governments are also buyers — they usually go for smaller turboprops which can land at small airstrips or helicopters, to be able to access remote locations.
Corporate aircraft are still not a subject most companies are comfortable talking about or even showing on their balance sheets. A bizjet is still perceived in most quarters to be a frivolous acquisition, rather than a timesaving device for the modern day CEO.
Several companies are working around the issue, through the sale and lease back route. Many of the large jets being bought by Indian corporate chiefs have been sold to international banks and then leased back from them. The asset is thus not on the balance sheet of the company and only the lease rental is accounted for. Aircraft makers hope the attitutude will change as India Inc gets more comfortable with bizjets.

Bloggers' hoax pictures of final moments of Gol 737-800 cabin after fatal September Amazon mid-air collision exposed

A publicity-hungry technology blogger attempting to fool people into believing he had exclusive pictures of the final fatal moments of the Gol Linhas Aéreas Boeing 737-800 that crashed into the Amazon jungle in September has been exposed by eagle-eyed aviation experts.
THE CLAIM: the photos (below) were taken by one of the passengers in the 737, after the collision.
THE CATCH: the pics were quickly revealed as fakes, having been taken from the hit US ABC television show 'Lost'.
The pictures have been exposed previously on Hoax Slayer, a site dedicated to exposing internet myths.

Brazilian federal court frees two US ExcelAire Embraer Legacy 600 pilots involved in Gol Linhas Aéreas 737-800 mid-air collision

A three-judge federal panel in Brazil ruled yesterday that two US pilots whohas been detained following the September mid-air collision between their Embraer Legacy 600 and a Gol Linhas Aéreas Boeing 737-800 can have their passports returned within 72h.
Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino have been stranded in Brazil for 68 days following the 29 September crash that killed all 154 passengers and crew aboard the Gol flight. Travel restrictions were placed on the two pilots, employees of business jet charter company ExcelAire, as a result of a federal criminal investigation that was underway in parallel with an accident investigation. (Flight International)

NTSB determines probable cause of fatal Citation V crash near Pueblo

On February 16, 2005, a Cessna Citation 560, N500AT, crashed east of Pueblo Memorial Airport, while on an ILS approach to runway 26R. The two pilots and six passengers on board were killed. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable causes of this accident were the flight crew`s failure to effectively monitor and maintain airspeed and comply with procedures for deice boot activation on the approach, which caused an aerodynamic stall from which they did not recover. Contributing to the accident was the FAA's failure to establish adequate certification requirements for flight into icing conditions, which led to the inadequate stall warning margin provided by the airplane's stall warning system. (NTSB)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pratt & Whitney Canada adds jet to fleet

In December 2006, Pratt & Whitney Canada has purchased an ex-Wanair Dornier 328JET (Dornier Do328-300, MSN 3129) from Universal Assent Management (UAM) of Memphis, TN. Airstream Intl. Group of the UK helped to arrange the deal.

The aircraft, configured for 35 passengers, will probably act as a corporate shuttle for the Canadian engine maker. The small jet was produced in Germany in 1999 and rolled out wearing test registration D-BDXL. It was delivered to Wanair of Tahiti, French Polynesia as F-OHJM (named "Marutea") on 15.12.1999 but the ownership was registered to SNC Tahiti Invest 1999 on 20.12.1999. The aircraft was subsequently returned to SNC Tahiti Invest 1999 on 29.09.2006. It was then purchased by UAM, re-registered as N129UM and stored at an unknown location (Tahiti-Faa airport?) until it was purchased by PWC.

Below is the interesting delivery route, which began in Papeete, French Polynesia and ended in Plattsburgh, one of Pratt & Whitney bases.

Date Type Origin Destination Departure Arrival Duration
19-Jan-2007 J328/G Clinton Co (KPLB) St Hubert (CYHU) 13:42 EST 14:08 EST 0:26
06-Dec-2006 J328/Q Bradley Int'l (KBDL) Plattsburgh Int'l (KPBG) 16:59 EST 17:37 EST 0:38
06-Dec-2006 J328/R Monterey Peninsula (KMRY) Bradley Int'l (KBDL) 06:29 PST 15:53 EST 6:24
05-Dec-2006 J328/ Hilo Int'l (PHTO) Monterey Peninsula (KMRY) 09:02 HST 17:29 PST 6:27
03-Dec-2006 J328/R Tahiti Faaa (NTAA) Hilo Int'l (PHTO) 18:40 GMT 17:25 HST 8:45

...and Embraer delivers

EMBRAER delivered 37 aircraft (two ERJ 145s; eight E170s; three E175s; 12 E190s; two E195s; 10 Legacy jets) in 4Q06 vs 40 (six ERJs; 11 E170s; five E175s; 10 E190s; eight Legacy 600s) in 4Q05.

NetJets Orders...

NETJETS ordered 30 more Hawker 750s (now 60) and 18 Hawker 900XPs (now 36) for delivery in 2009-2012.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Oprah Getting 'Typically-Equipped' $42M Jet

Oprah Winfrey is about to receive the custom-built, $42 million executive jet she ordered from Bombardier Aerospace, a Canadian newspaper reported.

Oprah's new private jet: the Bombardier Global Express XRSThe talk-show host's production company, Harpo, is paying for the Global Express XRS jet, which will have seating for about 10 passengers, the Montreal newspaper La Presse reported.

A spokesman for Bombardier told the French-language daily that Winfrey's plane would be "typically equipped" for a jet with such a price tag. The plane will have leather interior and designer fixtures for the bathroom and galley, among other high-end trimmings.

Bombardier's line of executive jets have proved popular with the rich and famous. Director Steven Spielberg, computer mogul Bill Gates and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte all reportedly have models of the Global Express jet.