While Honda is a regular on the racing circuit with teams competing from Formula One to NTT IndyCar, there are now more opportunities to take off with the iconic Japanese conglomerate that designs and manufactures everything from lawnmowers to, most recently, private jets.
In fact, over the past year, two new entrants are now offering its distinctive HondaJet in fractional, jet card and charter programs. Atlanta, Georgia-based Volato and Las Vegas-based Jet Token are new to the market. They join Greensboro, North Carolina-based Jet It in offering the very light jet to customers who don’t want to own an entire aircraft. Interestingly, they have each taken a different approach to how they are selling airplanes.
Jet It uses a by-the-day formula with fractional shares based on the number of days you want to fly per year. The starting point is 25 days. The way it works, you buy the share and then pay the monthly management fee. The program’s structure means the more you fly in a day, the lower your effective hourly rate when you factor in all expenses. It means that if you fly multiple legs on the same day by visiting several business locations, the Jet It program becomes highly cost-effective.
While the bulk of its 20-plus fleet is based in the US, Jet It recently expanded into Canada and has its sights set on Europe. Plus, its Red Jet Squadron allows qualified owners to pilot their aircraft alongside its highly trained captains.
Volato is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Matt Liotta, a private flyer who owns a share of the popular Embraer Phenom 300 light jet. In the HondaJet, he saw the answer to flights under two hours with five or fewer passengers and most typically with just one or two passengers.
He also wanted a model that didn’t demand the fine calculations of how much you will fly annually for the next five years — part of the commitment to fractional ownership. By ‘decoupling’ ownership from flying (Volato owners buy shares of the aircraft), they aren’t penalized by under – or over- flying. Owners also earn charter revenue for their aircraft at the same percentage of the share they bought.
Earlier this year, Volato opened a base in Carlsbad, California — a significant move since owners don’t pay repositioning for flights within two hours of a base. Other locations as of this writing are Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, St Augustine and Ft Lauderdale.
Jet Token also took flight last year. It uses the highly rated charter operator and management company Cirrus Aviation to operate its HondaJet fleet, which includes a primary service area limited to the West, including Los Cabos.
It offers a traditional share program where your slice of the aircraft translates into a specific number of annual flight hours. However, its shares are only on 500 flight hours per year as opposed to the standard 800. Executives say this more conservative approach reflects expected utilization and will mean owners are less likely to find themselves put off-fleet.
Unlike Volato and Jet It, Jet Token also sells jet cards if you aren’t ready to buy part of a private jet. As its name indicates, you can also buy your slice of private flying using cryptocurrency.
This article appears in the 05 Sep 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Fall 2022