By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief, AVweb
Timing is everything, and VLJs are the right product for a recession, claim, well, VLJ salesmen. Cyrus Sigari of JetAVIVA and Randall Sanada of Jet Alliance claim the exodus from big business jets is filling the seats of the smaller aircraft. “It is still cool to own a VLJ,” Sigari told the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. “It is not so cool to own a $20 million, $30 million jet.” But busy execs still need to get around, and when current political correctness doesn’t allow them exclusive access to an aircraft, charters are filling the void, Sanada said. He started Jet Alliance as a fractional ownership business but has expanded to provide charter service.
Sigari said it’s now generally accepted that the high-volume, per-seat air taxi model that was supposed to provide most of the customers for VLJs has all but evaporated but the virtues that made the small jets attractive for that market have a new allure for cost-conscious business travelers. Sanada said it’s a lesson that came too late for the CEOs of the Big Three on their now-infamous trip to Washington last year. “Had these guys flown together in a VLJ, it would have cost less than a tenth of what it cost in a larger plane,” Sanada said.