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Business Jet - Fractional Ownership

Some of the things that have kept business jet use from reaching its full potential have nothing to do with technology or regulations. Like any business in order to be low cost and still profitable it has to be efficient. But that's a difficult thing to achieve in the business jet arena.

Advertising for business jet travel isn't exactly as common as, say, for iPods. Unfair comparison because of the huge cost difference? Ok, when is the last time you saw an ad for a Ford truck? Yet, leasing the top of the line model isn't significantly more expensive than some business jet travel plans. But, you say, getting around in a Ford truck is a lot easier than getting into a business jet and hopping from city to city. Well, maybe, maybe not.

Those are exactly the two problems that fractional ownership plans try to solve: cost and convenience.

When you rent a timeshare in a condo in Colorado you plunk down a hefty amount of money. But it's a lot less than you would pay to own the accommodations outright. You pay less because you don't need the item all year 'round. You divide the costs with others who have similar interests. But then you have a (potential) scheduling problem. You may want to use the timeshare when someone else in the partnership does.

That problem is so common it quickly got resolved by clever entrepreneurs. A simple computerized booking system and a little negotiation, since demand may differ at different times of the year, and no more problem.

Those ideas have made their way into business jet travel, and the systems and contracts are only getting better and better. Consider that a few VLJ (Very Light Jet) models can transport 2-4 passengers and cost under $2 million. Sounds a lot like the cost and capacity of a nice condo in Colorado, doesn't it?

But someone may want to travel from A to B at the same time another may have to go from A to C. True enough. Fractional ownership plans allow users to share the costs, and provide mechanisms for scheduling the use of the plane to accommodate everyone as well as possible.

'As well as possible' often turns out to be quite good. For a few thousand dollars, users can often schedule enough flying hours to satisfy their business or vacation travel needs. Avoiding the crush, the irrational security measures and the other hassles of commercial flying frequently provides enough incentive.

Knowing you can schedule a flight sometime during the week of June might well be good enough to meet your needs. It isn't always necessary to get on the plane exactly on June 14th. Even regular commercial scheduling packages like Expedia are accommodating that.

You can now click a checkbox that says 'My flight dates are flexible'. That way, the airline and travel agency can offer you the best possible price and still get you where you need to go around the date you want to get there.

That's exactly what fractional ownership plans allow. Some very prominent companies, like Virgin, are getting into the act. And you know when the big boys start to take notice, going mainstream isn't far away. Pretty soon, you'll probably be able to book a flight on Amazon, choosing the price and vendor you want.

It's a great new world, isn't it?