By Molly McMillin
Glenn Gonzales Jet It, a Greensboro, North Carolina-based fractional ownership company, has placed an order for 10 HondaJet Elite aircraft with delivery over the next year.
The first of the 10 jets were delivered in September, with four additional aircraft to arrive by early 2021. The company expects to have all 10 in hand by the end of 2021.
The order expands Jet It’s North American fleet from its seven HondaJets and with it, makes Jet It the largest fleet operator of HondaJets in North America, the company says.
An equipped HondaJet Elite has a list price of $5.28 million, according to Aviation Week’s Business & Commercial Aviation magazine.
Jet It cofounder and CEO Glenn Gonzales, a former Air Force F15 pilot, spent five years at Gulfstream as a demonstration pilot before moving to Honda Aircraft as a sales manager. At Honda Aircraft, he flew and learned about the aircraft and the engineering behind it, Gonzales said.
In founding Jet It, the company drew from the best practices of commercial airlines, such as Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue, which operate a fleet of homogeneous aircraft, Gonzales said.
“There are a number of efficiencies associated with that,” Gonzales said. “We believe that the HondaJet provided us with a great solution.”
Gonzales co-founded the company in 2018 with Vishal Hiremath. It launched with three employees, including the two of them. The company since has grown to more than 50 employees with plans to add additional staff by the end of 2020.
Under the Jet It business model, clients have the aircraft for an entire day and may fly as many hours as they can squeeze in a normal crew duty day. Clients may buy from one-tenth to half of an aircraft, depending on their needs.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, sales in the second quarter grew 300% compared to a year ago and 400% in the fourth quarter, Gonzales said. Charter activity from March to September, meanwhile, grew 40%.
Some new entrants into fractional ownership at Jet It came from the charter market, while others came from other fractional programs and in some cases, are whole aircraft owners.
Will they go back to the airlines once air travel returns?
“We believe this is just a natural evolution of transportation,” Gonzales said. “We want to get there as quickly as we can, and we want to leave according to our schedules.”
The airline business will return, Gonzales said. “But I don’t think it will come back in the same way. That has created an opportunity for companies like ours for people who are looking for efficiency and autonomy in travel,” Gonzales said. “If you fly first class, you’ll do everything you can from going back to the cabin. It’s the same with private aviation. We make really good sense.”
Jet It clients are flying for both business and personal travel, but in most cases, the flights are for business, Gonzales said.
“It’s a good mix,” Gonzales said.
The company launched JetClub in September to bring their services to Europe and Asia.
“After experiencing success and a positive reception to Jet It in North America, we believed we could create a global leader in affordable private travel solutions, and the launch of JetClub is the next step towards that goal,” Hiremath said.