By Andy Warfield
When Covid-19 disrupted the airline industry, Greensboro-based Jet It disrupted the disruption. The HondaJet fractional ownership company co-founded in 2018 by former Honda Aircraft Co. (NYSE: HMC) sales executives Glenn Gonzales and Vishal Hiremath was just beginning to spread its wings at the start of 2020, its growth accelerated by the pandemic-fueled trend toward private aviation.
As Jet It President Hiremath has taken the lead in development of Jet It’s sister operation, JetClub — a membership-based model serving Europe and Southeast Asia — CEO Gonzales is the face of Jet It, which finished 2020 with 10 aircraft based across the U.S.
His expectations for 2021? To at least double the fleet.
“It’s going to be an exciting year,” Gonzales said. “Jet It is expanding out West, but 2021 will include Jet It Canada. Equally exciting in 2021 will be JetClub. We will have our first airplane in operation in Europe, but we’ll also be expanding into Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Vietnam, India and wherever else the market will allow.”
The right business at the right time, Jet It was poised to capitalize on the pandemic as business travelers sought alternatives to commercial aviation, which was cut back by more than 75% nationwide at the onset and has been slowly recovering.
Jet It’s fractional ownership model provides access to HondaJets commensurate with each client’s level of ownership, which can range from 10% to 50% of the aircraft. The company provides certified pilots, ground crews and administrative services. When not in use by owners, Jet It makes the aircraft available for charter flights.
Starting with one aircraft and fewer than 10 employees, Gonzales said he expects to end 2021 with a fleet of 20 to 25 aircraft between Jet It, Jet It Canada and JetClub. The company now employs 50 systemwide.
“The Covid environment has created an opportunity, and it’s allowed us to introduce ourselves to a broader segment of the market,” Gonzales said. “And it’s our job to retain those individuals, so we’re working aggressively to not only provide them with the exceptional service that they expect, but to show them it can be accomplished at a reasonable price.”