Cessna to restructure fractional ownership

Cessna Aircraft's fractional ownership business announced changes Friday that the company hopes will boost jet sales.

The changes includes changing the company's name from CitationShares to CitationAir and a new service for buyers of Cessna business jets.

CitationAir now will manage jets bought by Cessna customers. Buyers also will be able to offset the cost of ownership by letting CitationAir rent their planes when it needs additional aircraft during peak travel times.

That will reduce the company's need to charter aircraft during those times and help cut costs.

CitationAir will continue to offer fractional ownership and jet cards that allow customers to purchase flight hours.

It also will continue a program to sell empty legs of travel to existing customers and continue a jet management business for CitationAir customers.

"Now, (we will) use our colleagues at Cessna to sell whole airplanes to customers of Cessna and to customers of ours who want to buy a whole airplane, but want to have the convenience of having it managed" by the fractional business, CitationAir CEO Steven O'Neill said in a conference call.

Cessna and CitationAir have been hurt by the economic downturn that hit the business jet market.

Cessna cut about half of its planned production for 2010 and eliminated 8,200 jobs.

Cessna Aircraft owns 92 percent of CitationAir. TAG Aviation owns the balance. But Cessna's ownership might change to 100 percent after the first of the year, officials said.

Cessna and TAG Aviation bought Wayfarer Starshares in 2000 and shifted the fleet to Citation jets and changed the name to Citation Shares.

Since then, its taken delivery of 111 Cessna Citations. It currently has 80 Citations in its fleet, although only 69 of them are in active use.