US fractional ownership company Avantair is planning to expand its regional network as demand for its Piaggio P180 Avanti-based fractional and charter card programmes continues to soar.
Avantair has formed fixed-base operations and maintenance facilities at Clearwater in Florida, Caldwell in New Jersey and Camarillo in California and is seeking to establish similar ventures in Texas, the upper Mid-West and in St Louis, Missouri.
"Our programme has grown by over 80% year on year [since operations began seven years ago] and we plan to take delivery of 11 Avanti IIs this year," says Avantair chief executive Steve Santo.
He attributes the programme´s success to the twin-engined turboprop´s understated appeal, versatility and low operating costs. "The image of business jets has suffered during the downturn and many people who want to continue flying privately are looking for a less showy, but cost-efficient and operationally flexible means of travel, he says.
Santo says Avantair´s sales in July and August of its fractional and card programmes smashed the company´s forecast for the period. "We received 81% more sales than we had planned," he says. Avantair has a further 42 Avanti IIs on order for the next four years.