US fractional ownership and charter company CitationAir has begun recalling its furloughed pilots as demand for its aircraft management offering shows signs of recovery.
“We have called back 16 of the 85 pilots furloughed earlier this year,” says CitationAir chief executive Steve O’Neill. “I hope to bring the remainder back as soon as the market allows me to.”
The Cessna-owned company is the fourth-largest fractional provider with a fleet of 83 mainly managed Citation types. “The past 12 months have been tough for the industry,” says O’Neill. About 15% of CitationAir’s fractional ownership customers have left the programme since December last year and O’Neill adds: “While the exits have now ceased, the fractional business is still flat, at best. Yet the jet card business is stable and the management business is buoyant.”
He says much of this growth stems from aircraft owners who are reluctant to sell these assets in the current economic climate. “Prices for used business jets are so low. As a way of creating revenue out their assets, owners are looking for an operator that is both well known and is national in scope, so at least they can guarantee some income.”
To minimise fleet types and reduce operating costs, the Greenwich, Connecticut-based operator has placed restrictions on the type of aircraft it undertakes to manage. “The aircraft must be a CJ3, XLS, Sovereign or Citation X and it must have been sold to the current owner through the Citation sales network,” says O’Neill.