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What’s Next for the Fractional Market

When evaluating the business jet market, and the ever-evolving product like fractional ownership, even the most seasoned insiders seem to lack a clear sense of what’s next.

Consider that only a couple of years ago, the industry boasted six major airplane share providers, all of which seemed to be poised for expansion. Companies like Clearwater, Fla.-based Avantair, reported that it was hiring an average of six pilots per month. Two years later, Avantair was out of the game, in the wake of an involuntary bankruptcy filing last summer.

In early 2012, Cessna’s, CitationAir, stopped selling fractional shares and ceased renewals for existing ones. And last September, Bombardier sold its Flexjet operation to Directional Aviation Capital, which also owns Flight Options.

As the dust settles from the changes and consolidations, we’re left with just two major national players—Directional and Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets. And now that Cessna and Bombardier have exited the field, no aircraft manufacturer is left owning a major airplane-share provider.

What now? Will the industry experience further shrinkage or more consolidation? Will it stabilize or perhaps resume growing? As noted above, making predictions in this field can be particularly tough.

Most experts remain confident about the field’s future, though none expect more than “modest” growth over the next few years.

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