Exclusive Charter Service fully launched its Aero Club membership program in early January, with the aim of challenging the larger Wheels Up program. Aero Club offers a fleet of 36 aircraft, including six Piaggio Avanti IItwin pusher turboprops and a mix of jets ranging in size from the Beechjet 400A to the Gulfstream G650—all operated by Florida-based Exclusive’s sister company Custom Jet Charters. So far the company has signed six customers.
Individual or family membership starts with a $15,000 initiation fee, followed by $7,500 in annual dues starting with the second year. Equivalent rates for corporate membership are $25,000 and $12,500, respectively. Point-to-point flight-hour pricing ranges across the following aircraft categories: Avanti ($3,750); light jet, such as the Citation Bravo ($4,750); midsize jet, such as the Hawker 800XP ($6,750); super-midsize jet, such as the Bombardier Challenger 300 ($8,750); and heavy jet, such as the Global Express ($11,750).
According to Exclusive Charter, Aero Club’s rates are more competitive than those offered by the larger Wheels Up program, for which the main aircraft is the King Air 350i twin turboprop at $3,950 per hour. Wheels Up’s individual/family initiation fees are $17,500 and annual dues from the second year are $8,500, and for corporate members the rates are $29,500 and $14,500, respectively.
Exclusive Charter purchased five Avanti IIs from the fleet of bankrupt fractional ownership program Avantair, with the sixth aircraft also coming from this batch of 2011-built aircraft but being managed for its private owner. The rest of the fleet is operated under the Part 135 certificate of Custom Jet Charters, also under management contracts, with Aero Club members guaranteed access to aircraft (none of which is older than 11 years) at 24 hours’ notice.
The Avanti IIs were repainted and feature refurbished interiors. According to Exclusive Charter president Jason Johnson, they offer wider and higher cabins, plus up to 89 knots more speed versus the King Air 350i. He toldAIN that the company will be taking delivery of a new Avanti Evo later this year and has indicated to Piaggio that it intends to further expand this part of its fleet. However, the Wheels Up King Airs are significantly younger, with deliveries of its new aircraft having started in October 2013.
Minimum flight time per Aero Club trip is one hour, and Exclusive Charter builds in six minutes for taxiing time at each airport. Point-to-point pricing includes federal excise tax and members are not subject to any aircraft positioning costs. For now, membership is limited to U.S. clients based east of the Mississippi River.