Do you have a timeline on when you think flying will return to normal?
Because aviation is economically sensitive, a prediction about flying returning to normal has embedded in it a prediction about the economy returning to normal. We cannot predict the economy, but that said, we can reliably say that private travel has rebounded more quickly that commercial travel. Private jet charter hours, a key measure for our sub-segment of air travel, dropped sharply in mid-March but have steadily risen since that time. For example, hours flown in the two-week period that includes the last week of June and the first week of July are only down 10% vs the same period in 2019. We suspect that those who can afford it are flying private to avoid infection, and that travel by these new flyers, alongside returning flyers, has accelerated the rebound in charter hours.
Can you talk about your fleet of leased HondaJets? Many people probably haven’t flown on them before.
After 20 years of development and five years in service, the HondaJet has earned a reputation for reliability, comfort and speed. It’s unique over-wing engine design makes for a roomier, faster and quieter travel experience. The average U.S. private jet flight runs about an hour and half and carries two to three passengers. The HondaJet can carry four passengers a little over two hours and is therefore ideally suited to most trips. We noticed that the six-person Citation 560/XLS is the most commonly landed private jet in the U.S., but the data suggest this asset is typically flying one third its range and with only one half its potential passenger load. Translation? Flying the average mission profile on the most commonly landed jet is overkill and more costly. The world’s largest manufacturer of combustion engines (Honda Motor Co.) has seen this economic dissymmetry and stepped into the sweet spot of the market with HondaJet. We’re proud to be a part of the HondaJet story; and as an aside their plant in Greensboro, NC is a technical marvel.
By getting the engines off the tail and onto the wings HondaJet has created a quieter cabin experience and a large baggage compartment that can handle large form factor items with ease. Also, unlike some other light jets, the HondaJet offers a fully enclosed lavatory, and a galley for snack and beverage service. Can the HondaJet be configured for five persons, with an additional sixth person seated in the belted lavatory area? Yes. Do we recommend it for optimal comfort? No. But for urgent travel the HondaJet is versatile enough to rise to the occasion.