With competing stories coming out of fractional charter operator Jet It, stakeholders are seeking clarity—and the news doesn’t look good.
According to several sources that reached out to FLYING, Jet It has begun a significant round of furloughs, capping a rough weekend for the company in which it has also voluntarily grounded its fleet and paused operations.
In its recent series of decisions made following a runway overrun accident of a HondaJet last week in South Carolina, Jet It moved first to a “safety stand down,” according to an email sent by CEO Glenn Gonzales to company stakeholders on Monday.
“After careful consideration of this and other recent similar events, we have made the difficult decision to implement a safety stand down as of May 18, and ground this aircraft type in our fleet effective immediately,” said Gonzales. “Jet It has taken this precautionary measure to ensure the safety and well-being of our passengers, pilots, and the integrity of our operations. The stand down will be focused on reviewing policies and procedures for the safe operation of the HondaJet aircraft and gathering more information.”
HondaJet Owners and Pilots Association Responds
In its separate response to a series of 8 accidents that have taken place involving HondaJets over the past year, the HondaJet Owners and Pilots Association had already called for its own safety analysis, and subsequent informational sessions and training for operators to address those concerns at a future date—with no current pause in operations. In a video to its members, HJOPA executive director Julie Hughes framed the association’s position.
“All of you are experienced pilots, and while you have your own ideas involving each of these events, it’s critical that we do not jump to conclusions or make unfounded assumptions,” said Hughes. “Instead, we are allowing the data to inform us about this concerning trend within our platform. This data-driven approach will guide us in taking appropriate actions to enhance the safety of each of our operations.” HJOPA is working in concert with Honda Aircraft Co., FlightSafety International, and its board and membership.
The “organized break in aviation activities” planned by HJOPA stands in contrast to the emergency-style “stand down” in progress at Jet It.
The Jet It Model
Jet It has positioned itself uniquely in the market, offering share owners use of the fractional fleet at a relatively low rate of $1,600 per hour. When the company is able to serve its customers utilizing its fleet, it typically makes a modest amount per hour on the transaction. But if the fractional has to fulfill a customer request for service with an aircraft outside of its fleet, that margin erodes sharply.
In the midst of a dispute regarding service from Honda Aircraft Co., Jet It announced it would pivot its fleet away from the HA-420 and to Embraer’s Phenom 300. Part of the reason Gonzales gave for the change was in the “more than $20 million” in off-fleet expenses since 2020 that Jet It had to absorb—which it blamed on the poor service record for the HondaJet.
Honda Aircraft Co. (HACI) responded with a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against Jet It, saying it had violated certain agreement terms and defamed the OEM with its disparaging statements. HACI dropped the lawsuit in a confidential settlement in April, and it confirmed that it considered Jet It a customer it would continue to provide service for as agreed upon.
However, Jet It’s own customers have reported significant fall off in service levels since the beginning of 2023, to the point of unreliability. Combined with the word from two former executive-level employees (speaking on condition of anonymity) that Jet It has begun furloughing personnel at all levels of the enterprise supports speculation that the business is in serious condition.
FLYING will be updating this story as more information becomes available.