By S. Clayton Moore
For the team of experienced aviation pros running Global Jet Shares, the business is all about value. While other companies have set their sights on the fractional jet ownership market, Global Jet Shares is determined to put business professionals in the best jets at the right price.
The company was conceived three years ago by Ron Kelly, a sales and real estate professional whose credits include accolades as Century 21’s number-one All Properties Broker Associate from 1986 to 2000. His concept: a fractional jet ownership program to not only deliver quality service, but also put owners in completely refurbished Gulfstream aircraft.
He found the right partner almost immediately in Mark Ozenick, an aerospace executive and business leader with over 25 years of experience in building up aviation companies. Six years ago, Ozenick founded Heliflite Shares, the first regional helicopter fractional ownership enterprise in the United States. Now Ozenick, hired as chief operating officer, will bring that experience to bear on Global Jet Shares’ expanding business concept.
“I’ve already built one of these companies so I know where the landmines are,” Ozenick said. “I’ve been more or less an entrepreneur over the last 12 years in aerospace service industries. I’ve bought companies and sold companies and built these types of flight ventures from the ground up.”
Fractional ownership allows a buyer to purchase or lease-purchase a fractional interest in a single aircraft and guarantees on demand 24/7 availability to the purchaser of that airplane or another airplane from an entire fleet of aircraft. The investment is based on the amount of flight time required by the owner.
The market is growing steadily and it’s the right time for Global Jet Shares to emerge, according to Ozenick and others in the industry. According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, owners of fractional aircraft shares rose 20 percent in 2002, while the number of planes in those programs grew just 11 percent.
“About 1,500 individuals or companies are looking at either renewing their fractional aircraft provider or going elsewhere,” Ozenick said.
While there are similar programs available from companies like NetJets and Bombardier Flexjet, Global Jet Shares is the first to offer a fleet of completely refurbished pre-owned Gulfstream aircraft at a cost comparable to smaller private jets. The company has partnered with Van Nuys-based Pacific Jet, which manages 22 aircraft and 65 full-time pilots to serve the program.
“We felt that there was a void in capability,” Ozenick said, in explaining the decision to use refurbished aircraft. “Typically, you do better financially as a provider if you have less frequency in departures and arrivals. Those longer stage lengths take you out of the small cabin jets where you need numerous flights per day to really make it work. With a completely refurbished Gulfstream III with new paint, new interior and zero-time engines, it feels like a completely new aircraft but you aren’t paying a fraction of the $50 million price.”
First developed in 1968, the GIII is a high-luxury, large-cabin aircraft with capacity for 12 to 14 passengers. Pacific Jet’s fleet of aircraft has been outfitted for the most discerning passengers, including a full galley, cabin service, fine crystal and china, and a wet bar. Ozenick says the size makes the difference for some clients.
“Gulfstream has a reputation in the marketplace for being the ultimate in business aircraft,” he said. “Let’s say you’re a professional athlete and you’re six foot six. Why shoehorn yourself into a Hawker when you can get into a GIII for the same price? That’s tremendous value in today’s market.”
In addition to their fractional ownership program, Global Jet Shares has also recently launched MyJet, an exclusive private jet membership card program that allows members access to the company’s fleet on as little as 10 hours’ notice. Pricing for the program starts at $185,000 for 25 hours of flight time.
“For those individuals and private and public companies seeking to control travel costs, we have an outstanding alternative to the big three fractional providers, six major jet card competitors and users of on-demand charter with high and regular annual hour travel requirements,” Kelly said.
Ozenick sees the MyJet card program, which is already ahead of sales projections for 2004, appealing to many different types of members.
“There are really all sorts of ideal clients,” Ozenick said. “You have a client who has a second home in Hawaii or who travels between the East Coast and Florida all the time. There are companies who are Gulfstream clients right now that need supplemental lift, where you have the CEO going one direction and vendors coming in at the same time. Some companies have remote locations in hard-to-reach places like Idaho or Montana or Texas. These are prime examples of why people own business jets.”
Ozenick is dead serious about satisfying clients as well as putting a face on the company. He stays very involved in flight operations, reading the flight schedule every day and finding time to meet with clients between stops on a regular basis. Last week he hopped a flight to Austin, Texas, just to meet with a member for a few minutes between legs.
“I’m concerned with cold milk and fresh cookies,” Ozenick explained. “Those extra touches you would expect on a business jet are really how we differentiate ourselves in the market. NetJets has created a big organization and I don’t want to take anything away from them, but when you reach that size, it becomes very impersonal for the client. First of all, I think my involvement is essential to the personal service element, but secondly, I enjoy it. I think our clients enjoy knowing that the COO of the company is involved in daily operations.”
The only concern that Ozenick has right now, along with everyone else in the aviation industry, is the price of jet fuel.
“Obviously, we’re not immune to the price of fuel. We have to be smarter, as an industry, in finding a way to leverage our collective buying power with the oil companies,” Ozenick said.
In the meantime, Global Jet Shares is going about the business of keeping its members satisfied.
“Our challenge is just to grow at a manageable pace, where we can make sure the milk stays cold and the cookies stay fresh. With every flight, we have the opportunity to succeed or fail and when you get down to those details, that’s what people remember.”
For more information, call 877-333-2343 or visit [http://www.globaljetshares.com/].