Executive AirShare plans to use a new program to increase its aircraft use and maybe lure new fractional owners.
The Lenexa-based fractional aircraft ownership and charter company launched Embark this week. The program offers 10 days annually of flying on its fleet of Embraer, Cessna Citation and Learjet business jets and King Air turboprops without the longer-term commitment that owning a share of an airplane requires.
It’s a program that president and CEO Keith Plumb sees attracting mostly leisure travelers on weekends — times when its business fliers generally aren’t using AirShare’s 32-aircraft fleet.
“This product should lend itself to keeping the aircraft and pilots busy,” Plumb said.
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Cost of an Embark membership varies by the airplane. The lowest-cost membership is for its Embraer Phenom 100, which is $49,500 annually. That buys the Embark member access to the plane for 10 days a year. When the member flies on the Phenom 100, he or she will pay between $3,500 and $4,600 for use of the plane that day, which pays for the pilots and gas. Those “all-in” costs will be on the lower range if the member is flying to and from a destination in one day. If the member is flying to a destination to be picked up days later, the all-in costs are more because the airplane will be flying back to its base without passengers.
“If it’s a drop-off, we still have to dead-head the airplane back, so the cost is higher,” Plumb said.
But Plumb says the all-in costs aren’t per passenger, which means if the member is flying on a Phenom 100 along with three friends, the all-in costs could be divvied up between them, lowering the cost for the member to a fourth of the all-in cost, or $875 instead of $3,500. “You’re paying for the whole airplane,” Plumb said, meaning the Embark member can fly as many people as the airplane can hold.
The program is available where AirShare operates: Kansas City, Wichita, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio, Texas; and Buffalo, N.Y.
Even before AirShare formally launched the program, it received inquiries from the Embark information posted on its website, Plumb said. Two were from leisure travelers, while a third inquiry was from a company considering fractional ownership.
“We’re kind of calling (Embark) our gateway product,” he said. “We believe there will be a fair share (of Embark members) who will become Executive AirShare fractional owners.
“It’s great exposure for us.”
One thing the new Embark program won’t do is interfere with AirShare’s fractional owners. They will have the aircraft they have an ownership in available to them when they need them.
“If this is successful, we might have to go buy more airplanes,” Plumb said.