The Enlightened Personal Traveler
Making Travel a Pleasure
Written and Produced by Mark Patiky
Four years ago, retired executive Mort Handel and his wife left for what they thought would be a pleasant tropical getaway. Six connecting flights, five security checkpoint delays and two luggage mishaps later, an exasperated Handel wondered how going on vacation could possibly require so much work.
These days, Handel travels almost exclusively aboard his Avantair Piaggio Avanti and enjoys every minute. “You have to measure the value to you as an individual,” he emphasizes.
For a growing number of today’s busy executives, full or partial ownership of a private jet is priceless. And now it’s also affordable. Whether you want to own a plane, a fractional share or just borrow it for a few hours, there’s a safe and enjoyable private flying experience to fit every need.
“When you want to take your family on vacation, a major deterrent is the inconvenience of airline travel,” says CitationShares fractional shareowner Dan Doherty, a commercial real estate developer and the father of three children under the age of eight. “We’ve all experienced those airport nightmares, but [flying privately] takes the worst part of a vacation and makes it one of the highlights.”
Insurance broker and father of four Mike Shanahan agrees. “That is what it’s all about,” he emphasizes. And thanks to his NetJets fractional share, getting there really is half the fun. “The vacation starts the moment we step on board the plane,” he says.
Making the Most of Time
In today’s fast-paced world, you can’t always put business on hold for a two-week vacation. In fact, you’re lucky if you can get a four-day weekend. Fortunately, when getaway time is scarce, access to a private plane allows busy families to spend less time traveling and more time vacationing. “You have no connecting flights. No juggling schedules. No layovers,” explains Doherty. “We’re flying direct from [an airport near] our home to the vacation destination.”
Now you, too, can regain control of your most perishable resource: time. The Enlightened Personal Traveler is your gateway to the amazing benefits a private aircraft can offer. It details the wide range of options that opens up the skies to every travel profile and budget, and it speaks to real people who are discovering innovative ways to achieve balance in a manic, 24/7 world. From jet cards and fractional shares that allow you to work smarter and play harder to new small planes that literally put you in the driver’s seat, access to a private aircraft ensures you’ll always have time for what matters most.
On-Ramp to the Aerial Highway
Fractional Ownership and Jet Cards
With jet cards and fractional ownership, a part-time plane can have full-time benefits. Fractional ownership even offers significant advantages over outright ownership, like anytime, anywhere access to the plane of your choice and the ability to upgrade or downgrade to suit varying travel needs. You also enjoy all the tax benefits of outright ownership, including significant bonus depreciation opportunities, which are available this year. And all the major fractional ownership providers sustain the highest levels of safety and service, which means you travel aboard the best-maintained aircraft in the skies with the finest crews fully committed to your personal comfort and well-being.
Jet cards, available through all of the fractional ownership providers as well as some of the nation’s most prestigious aircraft operators, are a low-risk, high-reward way to experience the unique top-quality advantages of a business or personal aircraft, without the long-term commitment and large capital investment. They are also a perfect try-before-you-buy opportunity for those considering fractional ownership, a convenient way to separate personal and business travel costs and a cost-effective way to gain business aircraft benefits for travelers with limited requirements.
Ownership À La Carte
This month you need a plane every week, but next month you may not travel at all. Today you need to move a team of eight across the country, but tomorrow it’s just you making short regional hops. Think an ownership commitment isn’t right for you? Think again. Now aircraft ownership can be ordered to taste with diverse offerings from the nation’s leading fractional providers.
The fractional concept is simple: You’ll invest in the desired share based on the number of annual flight hours required, pay monthly management fees for the upkeep and maintenance of your plane and be charged a fixed hourly rate, but only for the time spent aboard. You’ll gain all the benefits of ownership but none of the management responsibilities — and wherever you find yourself, your plane is just a phone call away.
Creating Time for Business and Pleasure
For the CFO of a major West Coast retailer, the benefit was beyond anything he could imagine. Although he intended to use his plane primarily for personal travel, he quickly discovered that flying privately would have significant business advantages too. He chose CitationShares, with its fleet of small to midsize Cessna jets and the large-cabin, long-range Sovereign, which offers economical regional coverage as well as cross-country capability — something especially important for a company with 75 stores spread throughout the nation. Another bonus: With his offices in both Southern California and the Bay Area, he doesn’t need to worry about where to base the aircraft. “The plane is anywhere I want it to be,” he explains.
In a unique twist on the fractional ownership model, Citation-Shares’ “Citelines” program enables owners to choose between four pricing levels based on the number of peak travel days desired. The fewer peak days selected, the greater the savings. And for billing simplicity, Citelines rolls all charges into one annual fee that can be paid in equal monthly installments.
CitationShares also puts an emphasis on economy with options like “Caribbean Express,” which eliminates repositioning fees for Caribbean-bound flights on select days; “Value Plus,” which enables owners to take advantage of other fleet aircraft at special rates; and the popular “Preferred Positioning,” which offers discounted rates for travel on repositioning flights. “That’s a nice feature,” comments this CFO, “because it encourages you to take trips you wouldn’t otherwise take.”
Comfort, Convenience and Affordability
For regional travel, ultra-economy meets ultimate comfort with Avantair, the exclusive provider of shares in the Piaggio Avanti twin turboprop. This avant-garde aircraft uses roughly 40% less fuel than similar-sized jets for trips of the same distance while maintaining impressive speeds. Best of all, the quiet stand-up cabin is significantly larger than that of many small jets. So whether it’s a golf getaway or a ski vacation, there’s plenty of room for friends, family and all their gear.
Steve Shepard, managing director of M Benefit Solutions, can’t say enough about it. “In my opinion, if you are flying on a regional basis, [the Piaggio Avanti] is about the most efficient way to get there, and it’s also extremely comfortable,” he says, adding that the turboprop’s exceptional short-field capability allows him to access hundreds more airfields than he could with a similar-sized jet. Shepard acquired his share for regular travel between his homes in Portland, Ore., and Rancho Mirage, Calif., but the plane also facilitates frequent golf outings to destination courses like nearby Bandon Dunes on the Oregon coast or Sand Hills in north central Nebraska, places either inconvenient or impossible to access via commercial flight. For an annual golf trip to Victoria, B.C., Shepard and his friends can land near the course just 50 minutes after takeoff, as opposed to making an arduous six-hour commercial trek. The Avanti also has ample range for family vacations in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. “[Having one’s own personal aircraft] makes traveling a lot more convenient and fun,” he says.
Not surprisingly, customers like Shepard rave about the ease of budgeting with the equal monthly billing program, which Avantair pioneered. “I don’t even have to think about it,” he says. The plan takes the emphasis off individual trip cost, allowing owners to fully enjoy the travel freedom that fractional ownership provides without worrying about how this month’s unanticipated trip will affect next month’s carefully planned budget.
Recently, Avantair announced that it will be the first to offer fractional shares in Embraer’s new light jet, the Phenom 100. Like the flagship Avanti, it is more spacious and comfortable than other jets in its class, yet costs considerably less to own and operate.
A Plane in Your Pocket
Jet card programs offer all the flexibility of charter combined with the consistency, safety and reliability of fractional ownership. Some programs are aligned with major fractional fleets and others are tied to top charter providers. But unlike with charter, trips are charged on a one-way basis with no repositioning or empty-leg fees. Most cards also offer a full refund on any unused balance.
Marquis Jet, a pioneer in the jet card market, has partnered with NetJets to offer Marquis Jet Card owners all the advantages of NetJets fractional ownership without any of the ownership commitment. With single aircraft cards, combo cards and the ability to upgrade or downgrade, Marquis Card holders gain access to the entire NetJets fleet and all of the benefits, 25 prepaid hours at a time.
It’s the ideal solution for Sean Leder, CEO of the Boca Raton, Fla.-based Leder Group. His real estate investment firm currently manages nearly 1.1 million square feet of office and industrial properties across seven states, much of it in hard-to-reach places like Marion, Ill., or Clarksburg, W. Va. By owning a 25-hour share in a Citation V Ultra, Leder makes the most of his investment by combining hub-to-hub commercial travel with connecting flights on his jet. With the ability to land at small airports just minutes from his final destination, Leder saves time both in the air and on the ground. “[The jet card] is a very powerful tool,” he says. “It allows me to accomplish what I need to from a business standpoint and still get back to my family quickly.”
While Leder has been impressed by his newfound efficiency, he’s been awed by Marquis’s service, particularly the last-minute flight plan adjustments that work around weather delays and keep his schedule on track. “The flexibility of having the jet at your disposal, combined with a team at Marquis to make on-the-fly adjustments to your itinerary, is an unbelievable benefit,” he emphasizes. “It allows me to stay focused on the task at hand and not be absorbed with logistics.”
With independent fleets based in Europe and the Middle East, NetJets also offers a unique interchange program that allows U.S. fractional and Marquis Jet Card owners to seamlessly coordinate an international arrival via commercial flight with a subsequent departure aboard their NetJets aircraft.
Additional options abound, like the CitationShares “Vector JetCard,” one of the most affordable jet cards on the market, with only a 20-hour minimum. Combo cards allow users to split time between two aircraft, and a new value option credits extra flight time for travel at off-peak hours.
The brand-new Avantair “Edge Card,” which represents amazing value on a cost-per-hour basis, is available in 25-hour increments. Sales are soaring, particularly among executives and personal users who want to sample the service before buying a share. Already, roughly 25% of Edge Card holders have made the switch to Avantair fractional ownership.
Living the Dream
Anew reality is dawning for those who once only imagined the possibility of flying their own airplane. And with that comes the unprecedented opportunity for adding mobility and pleasure to business and personal lives caught up in the conundrum of too much to do and too little time to spare.
Although Jim Martell is “retired,” he occupies his leisure hours as chairman of four companies, serves on seven boards and researches investments for his small private equity firm. During a typical week, he traveled from his office in Atlanta, Ga., to his home in Sarasota, Fla., then to a speaking engagement in Orlando, a business meeting in West Palm Beach, a dinner in Lafayette, La., and a board meeting in Nashville, Tenn. On Friday he flew back to Sarasota for a quiet weekend at home. An itinerary like this would become a cinch with one’s own business jet. But, what’s truly remarkable is that Martell did all the flying himself in his newly acquired Cirrus — a single-engine, four-passenger, 200-mph speedster — that he actually bought well before he acquired a pilot’s license.
Learn to Fly After You Buy
Cirrus has taken the lead with a new generation of high-performance light aircraft that offer amazing speed and capabilities combined with sophisticated jet-like instrumentation, luxury-car interiors and incomparable safety features including a ballistic aircraft parachute. But the company really turned convention upside down by developing Cirrus Access, a comprehensive curriculum that makes it practical to buy an airplane first and then learn how to fly it. The best part is that there’s no waiting to enjoy all the benefits. Using a groundbreaking airline-style training regime, each owner is paired with a factory-trained pilot-instructor for a year. This allows owners to learn to fly immediately, even while en route to business meetings or leisure activities. Martell calls the experience “pure genius.”
Enhance Your Life
Like Martell, an unprecedented number of first-time owners are finding that a personal aircraft can truly change one’s life. “It is a fantastic example of freedom and productivity,” says Alan Klapmeier, founder, president and CEO of Duluth-based Cirrus Design. “This is a huge asset for people who don’t have enough time in their lives. All of a sudden you can see your grandchildren grow up. You can meet with your clients more often. Or you can get a second home and actually use it. You can do all the things you don’t normally have time to do.”
That’s what encouraged a Santa Monica, Calif., property developer to buy a Cirrus SR22 and reenergize her long-unused flying skills. She calls her Cirrus “the most exciting acquisition I ever made,” and says “it has completely changed the way we look at travel.” It even trumps her latest purchase: a vacation home near Mammoth Lake in the California Sierras. Of course, that could be because the Cirrus makes it possible for her to actually get there. The plane transforms the six-hour-long drive on treacherous mountain roads into 90 breezy minutes aloft. “No speed limits. Convenience. Comfort. Safety. It is just fantastic,” she says.
A new turbocharged Cirrus model with enhanced flexibility, faster speeds and the ability to reach higher altitudes offers even greater opportunity for pilots, including the option to climb above weather for a smoother, more comfortable ride. But what will forever alter one’s view of personal travel is the latest Cirrus development: the single-engine, singularly affordable personal jet, destined to roll out by the end of the decade. Called “The Jet,” it gives new meaning to the term “Volksplane.” And while you can’t expect to find one in every garage, it will definitely be landing at an airfield near you soon.
The Luxury of Time
At the dawn of this new era of travel efficiency, innovative aircraft and cost-effective ways to access them are transforming the business and personal lives of a growing number of travelers. With demanding careers and growing families, today’s busy executives are discovering that there’s no more important luxury than time. So who wants to squander it on inconvenient travel? Fortunately, the travel options for flying privately are safer, more efficient and more affordable than ever. “Some people choose to buy a big home, but we would much rather have the plane,” says Sherri Crawford, a longtime horsewoman who credits her fractional share with enabling her to pursue the competitive equestrian show circuit she loves without sacrificing time with her family. “It’s a luxury that really lets us enjoy life to the fullest.”
A Fresh Perspective on Travel
Former UPS chief counsel and businesswoman Liz Calvert gains time and a new perspective from piloting her own Cirrus to visit real estate investments across the Southeast. And she’s not just talking about the view. “It’s a wonderful way to travel,” she says. “It’s a whole new experience; and while the business needs certainly make it compelling, it also gives you a lot of personal enjoyment and satisfaction.”
“What’s happening is people are not only learning how to be more effective on the job, they’re learning to be more effective when they go on vacation,” says author, lecturer and Marquis Jet Card owner Todd Duncan.
“It’s an unbelievable luxury,” comments retired hedge fund manager Elizabeth Rice Grossman, who uses her fractionally owned jet to visit out-of-state grandchildren whenever she misses them — which is often. “It saves you stress. It saves you hours of time. I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity to take advantage of it.”
With access to a private plane, you can plan a family getaway between your Friday morning meeting and your Monday afternoon presentation, turn a vacant vacation home into a practical residence or just be back in time for dinner — even if you had lunch 1,000 miles away. “It’s value added to your whole life,” says Grossman.
Once you try it, you’re bound to agree. The future of personal travel is here. Welcome aboard.
Written and Produced by
Editor: Allison Lurker
Designer: Jon Prinsky