- 06 Jun 2022
- René Armas Maes
What are the most popular benefits Fractional Ownership providers offer their users? René Armas Maes explores the world of Part 91K flying...Back to Articles
According to ARGUS, in June 2022, Part 91 flying increased 6.1% year-over-year, while Part 91K Fractional Ownership flights were up 3.5%. For those with the right travel profile, Fractional Ownership provides several benefits over ad hoc business jet charter, jet card solutions, and even whole aircraft ownership.
Based on the feedback of several Fractional users, ‘opportunity’ and ‘flexibility’ ranked chief among the benefits. Following, we’ll consider the three leading areas of customer satisfaction that stand out for those who own fractional shares in a business aircraft.
1. A Customized, Flexible Travel Solution
Fractional Ownership has been a part of the Business Aviation industry since the early 1980s and is designed to offer aircraft users optimal flexibility, but without the complexity of operating an aircraft or the need to sift through multiple charter quotes every time they need to fly.
A fractional share owner has access to an aircraft for a set number of hours annually, based on the size of their share (which could be as small as a one-sixteenth share). Ultimately, Fractional Ownership offers all the benefits of full aircraft ownership to individuals whose annual flying hours doesn’t justify owning a whole aircraft.
The ability for fractional owners to customize a trip is one of the core attributes attracting customers to choose Fractional Ownership as a travel solution.
For example, Fractional Ownership customers can have an aircraft available in as little as four hours. They can also choose to upsize or downsize aircraft (through use of other aircraft in the provider’s fleet), which can be an essential element when a program member’s mission need is changeable in terms of distance and cabin occupancy, or when additional luggage or cargo needs to be transported.
Better still, while fractional owners buy a set number of hours aboard the jet per annum, many programs allow them flexibility to sell unused, or buy additional hours, providing a useful level of security and flexibility for those who encounter unforeseen changes in their travel needs.
Finally, where the need arises, a fractional owner may also use multiple aircraft simultaneously if necessary.
In return for the additional flexibility, there is, of course, a higher financial commitment required than for charter. Fractional aircraft owners are usually required to commit to between three- and five-years’ ownership. At the end of that term, they’re free to either terminate their ownership agreement, or renegotiate a new one, based on anticipated travel requirements for the next several years.
2. Guaranteed Aircraft Availability and Cost Predictability
Business Aviation users want to fly where they want, when they want, and with minimal disruption. Typically, Fractional Ownership providers either own or lease a large fleet of aircraft. Within that fleet will be a ‘core fleet’ of aircraft (usually around 10% of the total fleet) which is used to support the fractional program’s operations during peak demand days. The sale of shares on those core fleet aircraft is prohibited, helping guarantee aircraft availability to customers at busy times.
While Fractional Ownership providers work hard to ensure enough lift is available for all their customers, users should read the peak day policies to understand more about the provider’s lead time and aircraft access conditions on such days and holidays, in order to avoid occasional disappointment.
In the event of an AOG (Aircraft on the Ground) event, fractional providers are obliged to find alternative lift to complete a customer’s trip, and, given their usually large fleet sizes, this can often be accomplished very quickly.
The other advantage to Fractional Ownership users is that the costs and fees are known up-front since several of the associated flying costs (repositioning, standard catering, and de-icing, for example) are included in the hourly rate. Moreover, Fractional owners often get to enjoy tax depreciation deductions that are applicable to capital assets such as business jets.
3. Consistent Service Delivery
Popular among Fractional Ownership customers is the level of consistency received when it comes to service delivery. This focuses on all aspects of the trip, whether on the ground, in the air, or even post flight (including concierge, call handling, catering, running errands, and more).
The interiors of aircraft within a fractional provider’s fleet may incorporate a similar look and feel – through the selection of materials, colors, cabin amenities, seating layouts, and more – helping provide a sense of uniformity being applied across the service.
Interiors are carefully chosen to meet a variety of clients’ needs and tastes, without sacrificing the individual share owners’ desire to feel like it is their own aircraft when they’re using it.
Indeed, while Fractional Ownership operating models tend to mean pilots are assigned to aircraft type (not to a single aircraft tail number), fractional owners looking for a more personalized flying experience will find several program providers are flexible enough to offer dedicated crewing models. All of this helps promote a consistent flight experience, and enhanced customer satisfaction.
FIGURE 1: Top Ten Fractional Ownership Customer Satisfaction Metrics
Source: Consultant analysis. P: Product S: Service. Squawks: Defects (minor or major)
To conclude, Figure 1 (above) shows the top ten Fractional Ownership customer satisfaction metrics, their importance, and various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help measure performance – especially for those evaluating multiple Fractional Ownership programs to find the right one to meet their needs.