“People like to see you face-to-face,” says Mike Shanahan, president and CEO of St. Louis-based Huntleigh McGehee, one of the country’s largest independent insurance brokers.This could be a significant challenge for a firm with clients in 50 states and 46 countries, especially since nearly half of those clients are based outside major metropolitan areas.“The more people we can get in front of, the more successful we will be,” he emphasizes. Fortunately, with NetJets fractional ownership, Shanahan can compress weeks of travel into just a few days.
Shanahan, who has shares in a Cessna Citation XL, generally travels with a team of six or seven specialists in order to meet his clients’multiple insurance needs, but he often takes advantage of the ability to upgrade or downgrade depending on trip length and numbers aboard.“When clients see that you are making the time to bring all your top people, they know you care about their business, and that translates into a long-standing relationship,” he adds.
Shanahan also stresses the importance of quality out-of-office time with clients. With the ability to fly out and back in just one day, he can organize regular golf events at courses like Sand Hills in Mullen, Nebr., and Bandon Dunes on the Oregon coast, considerably distant from the nearest airline gate.“This gives us an opportunity to get to know [clients] personally, and that definitely makes me more effective,” he says.
With four young children, Shanahan also relies on NetJets to help him juggle a hectic family life.Whatever his travel plans may be,“it’s important for me to get home at night,” he says,“and you can’t put a price on that.
Shanahan is confident that he’s getting real returns on his investment.“If you took the money that I’ve spent [on the plane] versus the revenues from what we’ve been able to accrue as a result, it pays for itself many times over,” he says.“It has been a major benefit for me, for my family and for our business.”
Gain More For Less
Fractional Ownership and Jet Cards
For those who seek all the benefits of a private aircraft but prefer to focus on time in the air over equipment on the ground, fractional ownership or a jet card can be the ideal way to go. The fractional ownership concept is simple: You invest in the desired fraction of the aircraft of your choice based on the number of annual hours needed, and you pay monthly management fees for upkeep and a fixed per-flight-hour charge, but only when you’re aboard. Instead of being limited to a single aircraft, you gain access to an entire fleet and the freedom to upgrade or downgrade to larger or smaller aircraft or use multiple planes simultaneously. You also gain all of the tax benefits of ownership, but with none of the management responsibilities. Wherever you find yourself, “you just call and the plane shows up,” explains one longtime fractional shareowner.
Jet cards, on the other hand, combine the consistency, safety and reliability of fractional ownership with all the flexibility of charter. A big attraction is that, unlike fractional ownership, no major capital investment or longterm commitment is required. Like a gift card, you prepay for time required and your usage is deducted from the balance. While conventional charter is typically priced on a round-trip basis, jet cards have a fixed-hour cost for each one-way flight, so there are no positioning or empty-leg fees, and most cards also offer a full refund on any unused balance.
"[Access to a business aircraft] allows me to get people together,
conduct real business and resolve issues face-to-face.
It is an unbelievably efficient use of my time."
-Sean Leder The Leder Group
Ultimate Mobility In a Global Marketplace
Backed by Berkshire Hathaway, NetJets, which pioneered the fractional ownership idea, remains the largest provider with the broadest global coverage and the most diverse fleet of aircraft and owners. Its global fleet alone boasts more than 650 jets representing 16 aircraft types, from small-cabin Cessna jets to the ultimate Boeing BBJ with 18 seats, boardroom, office, private lounge and bedroom.
NetJets is now blazing the way to globalized private aircraft benefits. Robert Dranitzke, director of marketing communications for NetJets
Europe, points out that large-cabin, long-range aircraft are becoming overwhelmingly popular among European owners, indicating a surge in intercontinental business travel. Still the only fractional provider with independent fleets based in Europe, the Middle East, plus new operations in India, NetJets is uniquely equipped to accommodate today’s global businesses. Dranitzke notes that a growing number of U.S. companies are taking advantage of the comprehensive interchange program that allows them to seamlessly gain the advantage of NetJets travel abroad. In addition, he says, “we’ve also seen more and more U.S. businesses buy shares or cards for their executives in Europe, where these companies don’t have their own aircraft.”
If NetJets spurred the fractional ownership revolution, Marquis Jet pioneered an even more accessible approach to private travel by offering
all the NetJets benefits without any of the ownership commitment. Sold in 25- hour increments, Marquis Jet Cards are available for single aircraft, while combo cards enable cardholders to split hours between two different jets. Marquis Jet Card holders also enjoy the same access to the NetJets Europe and Middle East fleet as fractional owners.
Seamless Travel, Custom Fit
“Certain things just can’t be worked out over the telephone,” says one rural North Carolina real estate developer. That’s why Bombardier Flexjet fractional ownership plays such an important role in his company’s strategy.
Backed by renowned aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, Flexjet offers shares in the popular smallcabin and midsize Learjets as well as large-cabin Challengers, together with unique programs that allow Flexjet owners to tailor their service. For example, Flexjet’s “Versatility
Plus” allows owners to buy and sell excess hours annually. “That continues to be a great tool for enabling customers to fine-tune their ownership in any given year, thereby allowing them to maximize the value of the program,” says Bob Knebel, vice president of sales for Bombardier Flexjet.
Another exclusive Flexjet program called “Anytime Options” allows for guaranteed access to larger or smaller aircraft or multiple aircraft in the same day. Flexjet also eliminated ferry fees to Europe, Hawaii and the Caribbean, and remarketing fees on expired shares.
For a perfect introduction to Flexjet benefits, there is the “Flexjet 25” jet card, available in 25-, 30- or 35- hour increments and priced at three different levels depending on one’s flexibility in avoiding peak travel days. Cardholders also enjoy the same guarantee of a Flexjet aircraft 95% of the time.
Sister company Skyjet marries stellar quality and impressive economy with its charter-based jet card. Sales are hot, says Skyjet Managing Director Chris Milligan. Prepaid in a fixed-dollar amount, the newly revamped debit card allows users to select the most suitable aircraft for each trip. Each cabin-size category is priced on a per-occupiedhour, one-way basis, explains Milligan. Discounted round-trip pricing is also available. Although Skyjet utilizes only the nation’s most elite charter providers, customers can still expect to fly aboard Bombardier aircraft
about 80% of the time. Both Skyjet and Flexjet customers can also benefit from Skyjet International’s Europebased charter program for seamlessly integrated international travel.
With company headquarters in Calgary, Canada, and drilling rigs in the North Sea, Arthur Millholland, chairman and CEO of international oil company Oilexco Inc., and his management team make the 4,000-mile transatlantic trek the way the average person commutes from home to office.“We’re always going back and forth,” he says,“and we found that [the nine-hour commercial flight] was a very inefficient use of our time.” Plus, the wear and tear of frequent flying was starting to take its toll.“It was getting to the point where people in our organization were putting off necessary travel, which really doesn’t benefit our shareholders,” he recalls. In addition, there’s no confidentiality on a commercial aircraft, yet “traveling is often the only time when [the management team] is all together,” he says.
These days Millholland and, by extension, his investors are getting great returns on his 250-hour share in a Bombardier Flexjet Challenger 605 that can easily transport the entire management team anywhere in the world. And thanks to Flexjet’s exclusive Canadian-registered fleet, whether he’s flying within Canada, visiting the States or traveling aboard sister company Skyjet International’s planes in Europe, the experience is always seamless.
“[The plane] absolutely makes us more productive both on the ground and in the air,” he says. In the privacy of their own aircraft cabin, Millholland and his colleagues appreciate the opportunity to discuss key strategic issues.“That’s critical,” he says. “People don’t have enough of a chance to talk to one another.You have to make decisions quickly, so it’s nice to be able to sit down and talk without interruptions. [The plane] really allows for that, and we can set our departure time based on what suits us best rather than [what suits] the airlines.”