In a letter sent to its fractional share owners last week, Jet It CEO Glenn Gonzalez, a Honda Aircraft Company sales director before founding the fractional operator in 2018 as a HondaJet platform, blasted his former employer, saying Jet It has done its “best to shield you from Honda’s ineptitude.”
Its European sister, JetClub, is also planning to transition away from HondaJet, according to its CEO Vishal Hiremath.
“For similar reasons and issues faced by Jet It in the U.S., we plan to transition away from Honda in the long term. At this time, we have a small fleet and team in Europe, and it is manageable, but the aircraft range, support, and operational restrictions in Europe make it a challenge to operate it. With only one service center and limited training options in Europe, Honda is not going to be on our long-term future fleet plan,” Hiremath says.
In his email to customers, Gonzalez called Honda Aircraft Company’s support and reliability of its very light jets “not just disappointing, but shocking.”
He asserts the VLJs lack of reliability has cost Jet It over $20 million in off-fleet expenses.
For every nine days that we fly a HondaJet, it requires six days of maintenance– Glenn Gonzalez, Jet It CEO
Gonzalez says the first two of the Brazilian OEM’s light jets, which were acquired on the preowned market, will be in revenue operations by the end of the month.
He tells Private Jet Card Comparisons he plans to order new jets from Embraer, although he did not specify the timing or provide additional details.
The letter was sent in advance of scheduling calls with owners to pitch them on moving to the Phenom 300, which Gonzalez says will be optional.
Executives from Volato and Jet Token, which each sell HondaJet fractional and jet card programs, dispute the assessments from Jet It (see below).
Gonzalez also confirmed plans to keep at least part of the HondaJet fleet to grow its charter operations.
Explaining why Jet It is keeping the Honda VLJs, considering current issues, he tells us, “Charter demand is variable. We can turn it off, turn it on.”
Jet It’s fractional program provides guaranteed availability.
In the letter to his HondaJet fractional owners, Gonzalez writes, “We are incredibly grateful for your patience and understanding. Our service has not met our standards, as it has surely fallen short of yours.”
The email continues, “As a believer in the Honda brand, I am incredibly disappointed by the uptime of the HondaJet, and the grossly inadequate support we (and by extension you, our member) have been subjected to by Honda Aircraft Company.”
Not pulling any punches, Gonzalez continues, “We expected and relied on Honda to provide the ‘Honda’ standard of quality and reliability that the brand is known for, and they represented to us they would have in their aviation division.
“They assert that their aircraft is ‘designed for operators’ and is the perfect fit for charter and fleet operators. And while their product may well be described as a fine piece of engineering, their service has been woefully lacking.
“As a minimum, we expected the HondaJet to meet an industry standard of 85% availability. Meaning that 85% of the fleet is flyable on any given day.
“However, for every nine days that we fly a HondaJet, it requires six days of maintenance.
“In the last five months, this statistic has resulted in Jet It having an average of only 10 aircraft flyable out of 24.
“For nearly two years, we have done our best to shield you from Honda’s ineptitude, but our shield has worn through.
“Even though Honda has not met its obligation to us, our obligation to you – to fly you even when your Honda is not – has had our new company absorb over $20 million in ‘off fleet’ expenses in the last two years…
“This does not include the elevated maintenance expenses, which adds millions more to costs. Of course, our financial hardship is just one challenge; the more significant issue is how we have missed the mark on meeting your expectations.
“Private aviation should be an elevated experience – in every way. But we simply can’t properly operate if our aircraft do not.
“We frankly find all of this, not just disappointing but shocking given that Jet It is Honda Aircraft Company’s largest customer, having spent over $200 million in aircraft, parts, service, and training.
“The days of not having enough flyable aircraft causing you schedule anxiety, late notifications, flight delays, and cancelations must end, and the Embraer Phenom 300 is the solution.”
Gonzalez adds, “The abuse from not having flyable aircraft cannot be continued. There will be changes to our HondaJet operations as we retool,” before concluding.
A spokesperson for the OEM tells Private Jet Card Comparisons, “Honda Aircraft Company has been made aware by a few sources about a message sent by Jet It CEO to the Jet It fractional owners. HACI would like to reconfirm our position regarding the HondaJet aircraft fleet reliability and our solid commitment to support the product.”
She adds, “HACI does not comment on internal operational matters relating to our customers. The HondaJet dispatch reliability remains very high at 99.7%. We work closely with all our customers to assist them to maximize their asset availability, which may be influenced by multiple factors associated with a customer’s operations, such as extended downtimes due to accidents, incidents, pilot, technician availability, maintenance planning, and scheduling, and service center network coordination.”
The spokesperson continues, “As the HondaJet fleet continues to grow, we are committed to ensuring that each of our customers around the globe receives the highest quality of service and support, with the supply of parts and factory-trained and certified service technicians available at each of the Authorized Service Center (ASC) locations. With the addition of four new full-service ASCs in the United States and global regions in 2022, we continue to strengthen our service capacity.”
Asked to comment on the Jet It letter, two other HondaJet fractional share operators, Matt Liotta, Co-Founder and CEO of Volato, and Michael Winston, Chairman of Jet Token, provided written statements.
“(HondaJet’s) maintenance schedule is very manageable and has been planned into our operation from the start. And the reliability of the aircraft is on par with or exceeds that of any other light/very light jet in our experience,” Winston says.
Liotta says, “Onboarding a completely new aircraft does come with risks as well as opportunities for growth and learning. From the beginning, we were aware that the HondaJet’s scheduled maintenance would cause it to have lower availability than other, more established light jets. HACI was transparent about this and their roadmap for improving it over time. As such, we committed to working with HACI to improve their platform by being transparent with them about our experiences with their aircraft.”
He adds, “Our face-to-face meetings with their maintenance team have resulted in several positive outcomes: Volato developing an in-house maintenance team to resolve minor maintenance more quickly, establishing relationships with regional maintenance teams to ensure access to their services, and HACI maintenance introducing a variety of initiatives to expedite major scheduled maintenance.”
Volato remains committed to the OEM. Liotta says, “HACI continues to improve their platform, issuing technology updates and investing in pilot training. With each revision, their aircraft performance and reliability have either met or exceeded our expectations. Our relationship and commitment to this platform are growing stronger. Although there is more work to be done, as an operator that believes in long-term, transparent relationships, product improvement, operational efficiency, and delivering the best customer experience, we have confidence in the HondaJet for the long term.”
Others say Honda’s aircraft unit has been slower than other OEMs during the Covid demand surge in terms of ramping up customer support, including hiring more maintenance technicians and expanding shifts.
During a panel at Corporate Jet Investor earlier this month, operator executives said delays in repairs and inspections are significant factors impacting reliability.
“(Honda Aircraft Company’s) structure, being a small part of a large global company that has issues in their other larger businesses, means they aren’t as nimble,” one executive tells us.
Earlier this month, parent Honda reported rising profits for the first six months of its fiscal year “despite some unfavorable factors such as a decrease in automobile production and unit sales due to the impact of the semiconductor supply shortage, and an increase in the cost of raw materials.”
The Japan Times noted during the period, “The automaker was forced to consistently cut vehicle production at two domestic factories as COVID-19 outbreaks, and semiconductor shortages caused delays in parts shipments.”
In Business Jet Traveler’s Annual Readers’ Choice Awards, Honda Aircraft Company drew a 3.04 rating on a scale of 5, the lowest of any bizjet OEM. Embraer scored a 3.28. Gulfstream Aerospace, which doesn’t compete in the VLJ or light jet category, scored best with a 3.70.
Asked about preferred VLJs, Embraer’s Phenom 100 beat the HondaJet by a 56%-to-31% margin, while the Phenom 300 ranked tops in the light jet category with 32% of the vote.
According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Honda delivered 13 HA-420s through the first nine months of 2022. Last year, Honda delivered 37 units, including 22 in the fourth quarter.
In terms of fleet availability, at least three Jet It airplanes have been impacted by runway excursions this year.
According to Kathryn’s Report and data from FlightAware, two Jet It HondaJets were out of service after accidents.
N903JT was “substantially damaged” after “the airplane skidded sideways, departed the end of the runway, and traveled tail-first over the edge of a steep incline, coming to rest in trees” on March 13, 2022.
N704JT was “pushed off the runway due to a wind gust during landing” while landing on October 12, 2022.
No injuries were reported in either accident; however, FlightAware tracking indicates neither is currently flying.
Additionally, C-FJJT, which was being operated in Canada for Jet It by Sky Service Business Aviation Inc., suffered a runway overrun on March 7, 2022.
Again there were no injuries, and reports indicate no damage, but it’s not clear if and when the aircraft returned to service.
Of the impacted tails, Gonzalez says, “We did not include those aircraft into the numbers provided (to owners).”