Jet It, a North Carolina-based fractional ownership and charter operator, shut down its flight operations just before Memorial Day. In shutting down operations, Jet It CEO Glenn Gonzales cited the HondaJet as the cause of the company’s failure, claiming that the HA-420 Honda Jet is inherently flawed.
Honda Aircraft announced a program to support Jet It owners free of charge to help them seamlessly transition to alternative aircraft management options. That includes relocating the aircraft to the factory, where the company will supply 90 days of free parking.
“We understand the challenges faced by fractional owners who have been impacted by the suspension of their aircraft management after being released from contract by Jet It and are now seeking alternative arrangements. Consistent with our dedication to customer satisfaction, we have developed and established this assistance plan for those HondaJet owners in need of additional support during this transition period,” said Amod Kelkar, Chief Compliance Offer at Honda Aircraft.
In providing the rationale for the operational shutdown, Mr. Gonzales cited a May 18th runway excursion by a private HondaJet operator. He initiated a safety shutdown of the Jet It Honda Fleet the following day. To substantiate his allegations, Mr. Gonzales presented an accounting of runway overrun or runway incursion instances involving Honda Jets. Interestingly, Mr. Gonzales, CEO of Jet It, was formerly a Honda Aircraft regional sales manager before starting the fractional firm.
Honda Aircraft and the HondaJet Owners & Pilots Association, a group representing HondaJet owners, refuted the allegations. An NTSB investigation of the North Carolina incident remains open at this writing, with the full cooperation of Honda Aircraft Company.
The industry rumor mill indicates that Jet It’s allegations may be related to cash flow issues, as more than half of the company’s fleet of 21 HondaJets were stranded at maintenance centers for lack of payment.
This is not the first battle between Honda and Jet It. In late 2022, Jet It and Honda Jet settled a legal battle between the two parties brought in the US District for the Middle District of North Carolina. The matter was settled with prejudice and with each party bearing its own legal expenses.
In October 2022, Jet It announced its intention to acquire Embraer Phenom 300 and Praetor 500 aircraft to its fractional fleet.
In its lawsuit, Honda Aircraft stated, “In an apparent attempt to spin some kind of justification for its decision to diversify its fleet, Jet It issued several statements that contain defamatory and disparaging comments about Honda Aircraft and the HondaJet brand.” The manufacturer also alleged a breach of contract in its fleet purchase agreement, restricting Jet It from selling aircraft to an unrelated third party during the first year after delivery. Honda Aircraft indicated that Jet It attempted to sell an aircraft early and, therefore, would void the remaining two deliveries previously contracted for.
No causal factors from the aircraft design or any system malfunction with the HondaJet were found in all the closed prior incidents of runway events. As a result, Honda Aircraft is continuing all its flight activities under normal operations.
The Bottom Line
While it appears that HondaJet remains safe to operate and has a 97% fleet dispatch reliability, the allegations from Jet It may be impacting the market. Honda Aircraft delivered only one new aircraft in the first quarter of 2023, per the General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association report. That is a substantial drop from the 4-7 first quarter deliveries in prior years.
The offer by Honda to assist HondaJet customers is the right thing to do, irrespective of disagreements between the firms. We expect Honda to regain market momentum in the 2nd quarter of 2023, as supply chain issues are resolved, and a larger order from Volato for 25 Honda Elite II jets begins deliveries later this year.