Private Jet Comparisons has exclusively confirmed NetJets has added the Embraer Phenom 300 light jet (as we reported it would last year) and Cessna Citation Sovereign super-midsize jet to its jet card line-up, although at just over 30,000 pounds maximum takeoff weight it is classifying it as a midsize aircraft.
Both will be sold as Elite Card programs, meaning 24-hour lead-time for reservations with the hourly price including fuel, 7.5% Federal Excise Tax, and deicing. Peak day lead-time is 120 hours with a 25% surcharge.
Daily and segment minimums are 60 minutes, inclusive taxi time, making both cards attractive if you fly short legs. You also get NetJets’ generous primary service area including most of Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, without a surcharge except international fees.
The majority of jet card programs charge 10-50% extra depending on where you are going outside of the Continental U.S., and others just provide dynamic pricing, meaning pay ferry fees and crew overnights as they accrue for your missions.
NetJets is also one of a hand full of U.S. programs with a fixed-rate, guaranteed availability service area within Europe. There are also one-way rates for transatlantic flights on an as-available upgrade basis.
If you were thinking, isn’t NetJets about fractional ownership and leases, you would be right. They are by multiples the largest private jet operator in the world, and fractional is where they made their name.
However, after directly entering the jet card segment with the purchase of Marquis Jet Partners in 2010, we believe based on revenue NetJets is today the biggest player in the card membership segment.
Last year Traqpak reported the Warren Buffett owned provider clocked 365,710 hours for its U.S. division. It has been inferred jet card fliers make up 15-20% of its hours, so at the lower end of the scale, about 55,000 hours.
Divide by 25 hours, the minimum buy-in for its cards, and that would mean 2,190 cards sold in 2018, although it might be fewer customers since you can also buy 50 hours blocks. It also includes existing fractional owners and lease customers who need incremental hours and want it to be on NetJets.
While NetJets NetJets doesn’t publish pricing, still, knowing what we know, we believe they are ringing up around $500 million per year in jet card sales. Wheels Up has said publicly its sales are at or approaching $400 million, and Directional Aviation’s Sentient Jet has indicated it is in the $300 million range.
Based on Jet Linx CEO Jamie Walker recently declaring he has 2,000 pay-as-you-go members, it’s possible the Omaha-based jet management operator generates $200 million in jet card revenues. Delta Private Jets and Vista Global’s XO may well be in a similar range.
Either way, the Phenom 300 gives NetJets a true light-jet jet card. While it refers to its Citation Excel/XLS as a light jet, in truth it’s on the bottom edge of the midsize jet segment, which starts at a maximum takeoff weight of 20,000 pounds, according to Traqpak. It’s also sold as such by providers that sell by cabin category.
At six passengers, the Phenom 300 is also more in line with the typical six-seat guarantee you get with light jets sold by cabin-class (the Excel/XLS has seven seats, again typical of a midsize seating guarantee).
The Phenom 300 is also a popular jet specific option. In the Private Jet Card Comparisons database of over 300 jet card programs, Airshare, Flexjet, GrandView Aviation, JetSuite, Magellan Jets, Nicholas Air, and OneFlight International all offer Phenom 300 memberships.
In 2010 NetJets placed a landmark order for 125 of the Brazilian manufactured and U.S. assembled light jets and as of earlier this year, the company said it had 86 in its fleet. And just to give you a sense of NetJets’ scale, its Phenom 300 fleet alone would rank as one of the five largest charter fleets in the world if it was so designated.
It’s also not the first time NetJets has offered the best selling light jet in jet card form. You may recall in early 2016 it sold Phenom 300 cards in partnership with (RED), the charity founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver, which works to eliminate financial and health emergencies threatening the people of Africa, donating a portion of the sales to their efforts. The limited-edition cards sold out within a few days.
The primary service area for the Phenom 300 includes without surcharge Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean in addition to the Continental U.S., and de-icing is included, something to consider if you do a lot of winter flying.
Also now available in jet card form, also the Elite type, is now the Cessna Citation Sovereign. NetJets bills it as a midsize jet, but at a maximum takeoff weight of just over 30,000 pounds, technically a super-midsize aircraft, although Traqpak doesn’t break out the category.
The Sovereign is essentially a redesign of the Citation X, one of the fastest private jets. However, it trades speed for transcontinental range from shorter runways. Earlier this year NetJets said it had 44 of the type in its fleet. The NetJets configuration features eight seats, so typical of a super-mid jet card seating guarantee.
We nitpick on cabin size and seating because people otherwise might compare the Sovereign against midsize offers based on an hourly rate, creating the perception that NetJets is more expensive than it actually is if compared to super-midsize offers. Same goes if you price the Citation Excel/XLS as a light jet instead of a midsize type.
With the addition of the Phenom 300 and Sovereign, it now means NetJets has separate eight card offerings, although its combination card which allows you to split two-card program aircraft types means there are double-digit possibilities.
What’s the next fleet type to get a jet card option? No longer around in the large cabin segment is the Dassault Falcon 2000 jet card with most of that type exiting the fleet. Right now the G450 is the only large-cabin aircraft in its card program. For fractional and lease customers NetJets offers the Bombardier Global 5000/6000 and Challenger 650.
In the super-midsize segment, NetJets has 73 Challenger 350s, which can be accessed via its X-Country program that offers it or the Citation X for flights 3.5 hours or more and the Citation Excel/XLS for shorter flights. Last October, it said its revised agreement with Textron allows it to add up to 175 Citation Longitudes which are just now entering service.
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