Honda’s feud with its largest private jet fleet operator goes public

0
12

The largest operator of Honda Motor Company’s entry into the private jet market denounces the manufacturer in an email sent last week to members of its fractional share program. The letter from Glenn Gonzalez, co-founder and CEO of Jet It, first published in Private jet ticket comparisonswas titled “The Jet It You Deserve”, and claims that in the past five months the airline was “on average able to operate only 10 out of 24 aircraft”.

ALSO READ  Volato orders 25 HondaJet Elite IIs in dramatic twist

Gonzalez wrote, “Frankly, we find this not only disappointing but shocking as Jet It is Honda Aircraft Company’s largest customer, with over $200 million spent on aircraft, parts, service and training.”

The CEO told his shareholders, “As a minimum, we expected the HondaJet to meet an industry standard of 85% availability,” and continued, “I am incredibly disappointed by the HondaJet’s uptime and extremely inadequate support,” adding : “For almost two years we have done our best to protect you from Honda’s ineptitude, but our shield has been worn through.”

He says Jet It incurred more than $20 million in additional costs to charter replacement aircraft when the Honda fleet was unable to operate missions.

As previously reported in TBENJet It is switching to Embraer’s Phenom 300 for its part program, and the email has been sent ahead of setting up sales calls to discuss the new option.

Quarrels between OEMs and customers are not uncommon. Airbus and Qatar Airways are currently engaged in a very loud and public legal battle, although in private aviation they tend to be more muted. The Qatari flag carrier declined to comment as the Qatar Executive unit returned its Gulfstream G500 fleet to General Dynamics’ unit and apparently took G650ERs instead.

In this case, it might be more personal. Both Honda’s corporate jet unit and Jet It are based in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Gonzalez was a regional sales executive at Honda Aircraft Company before launching the fractional provider in 2018.

In a statement to Private jet ticket comparisons, an OEM spokesman said, “Honda Aircraft Company has been made aware by a few sources of a message that Jet It’s CEO sent to Jet It’s fractional owners. HACI wishes to reaffirm our position regarding the reliability of the HondaJet aircraft fleet and our solid commitment to support the product.”

She continued, “HACI does not comment on internal operational matters relating to our customers. The transmission reliability of the HondaJet remains very high at 99.7%. We work closely with all our customers to help them maximize the availability of their assets, which can be impacted by multiple factors related to a customer’s operations, such as extended downtimes due to accidents, incidents, pilot availability , technicians, maintenance scheduling and scheduling, and service center network coordination.”

The spokesperson added: “As the HondaJet fleet continues to grow, we are committed to ensuring that all our customers around the world receive the highest quality of service and support, with the supply of parts and factory trained and certified service technicians available at any of the Authorized Service Center (ASC) locations. With the addition of four new full-service ASCs in the United States and global regions in 2022, we continue to strengthen our service capability.”

The reference to accidents and incidents is perhaps a dig at Jet It. Three of its HondaJets were out of service after catwalk excursions earlier this year, and while there were no injuries, Gonzalez says the accidents were excluded in the availability calculations sent to customers.

Jet The decision to go public to blow up the OEM could affect two other startups selling fractional and jetcard programs that use Honda’s very light jet.

Volato CEO Matt Liotta said in a statement, “HACI continues to improve their platform by releasing technology updates and investing in pilot training. With each overhaul, the performance and reliability of their aircraft met or exceeded our expectations. Our relationship and commitment to this platform is growing stronger. While there is still more work to be done, as an operator who believes in long-term, transparent relationships, product improvement, operational efficiency and delivering the best customer experience, we have confidence in the HondaJet for the long haul.”

When asked to comment on Jet It’s email, Jet Token Chairman Michael Winston said, “(HondaJet’s) maintenance schedule is very manageable and has been planned from the start in our operation. And the aircraft’s reliability is comparable to or exceeds that of any other light/very light jet in our experience.”

Liotta added in a post on Linkedin, “After publicly berating their current OEM, I’m sure Embraer will jump at the opportunity to have Jet It as a customer.”

So far, Jet It hasn’t placed an order with Embraer, though Gonzalez says one is planned. The first Phenom 300 fleet will be through the used market.

Online comments on the breakup have been mixed.

Michael Riegel, a consultant and former director of Bombardier and Flexjet, posted, “Having piloted a large fleet of light jets, I suspect the truth is somewhere between Jet It and Honda. First, it is extremely difficult to achieve 85% uptime with corporate jets. You need the aircraft on a progressive maintenance schedule and enough service centers to provide nationwide support…Honda doesn’t have the infrastructure and expertise to provide the level of support needed, and Jet It should have known this or found a workaround, by this time!”

However, another consultant, Tom Cappelletti, posted: “Glenn is the real deal. Shame on HondaJet.”

Rob Hoffman, an executive producer for fly Magazine, added, “Here’s what happens when you say the silent part out loud.”

Despite harsh and public criticism from his former employer, Gonzalez raised eyebrows by confirming that Jet It intends to keep part of its HondaJet fleet to expand its on-demand charter business.

While fractional owners get guaranteed availability, Gonzalez noted, “The demand for charters is variable. We can turn it off, turn it on.”

Liotta, for his part, says he expects Volato to surpass Jet It as the largest Honda fleet operator in the first quarter of next year, and is interested in acquiring more of the VLJs. “If Jet It is unable or unwilling to provide a reliable HondaJet service, we are happy to welcome their HondaJets into our fleet to provide those owners with our excellent service,” he says.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here