Originally Published in Forbes Magazine
By: Mike Espindle
Led by private aviation veteran Mark Molloy, Partners in Aviation (PIA) uniquely acts as a kind of high-flying match.com, linking two private jet owners together with an appropriate, curated, mutually beneficial jet co-ownership plan that can essentially give you the abundant benefits of sole aircraft ownership while sharing the costs in a seamless manner. The PIA Managed Co-Ownership program codifies and standardizes an ownership/partnership solution, that, in the past could be a long, painful, legally problematic ad-hoc process to share a private jet. But there’s also a bit of old-fashioned matchmaking employed, as well.
And, with access to a critical mass of current jet owners across the U.S. looking to share the skies, PIA is confident it can provide solutions for nearly any co-owner situation. The firm has successfully created matches in light, mid-size and super-midsize private jets, generally adding a co-owner to an already owned aircraft. It has also successfully joined co-owners of new aircraft, as well. A typical co-owner client flies in that sweet spot of a little more than a card program customer and a little less than a whole ownership flier; between 50 and 150 hours a year.
“With matches flying from coast-to-coast and a map full of current opportunities, we invite [potential customers] to hear from our clients, discuss the program with us, and decide if PIA Managed Co-Ownership is right for you,” Molloy says.
But, beyond syncing up the stats, financial capabilities, and mission demands of co-owners, the process is also very personality-driven. Of course, the most successful partnerships of any stripe are based on likemindedness, mutual respect, and even a level of friendship. In that respect, PIA truly serves as a bespoke “matchmaker” for private jet owners.
Based on customer experience and feedback, the structure of PIA Managed Co-Ownership blends the economics of shared partnership with the autonomy and security of fractional ownership.
Certainly, pairing up co-owners in an equitable partnership that gives each satisfactory access to an aircraft is the “secret sauce” of PIA’s program, but the simple economics of this approach just scream mutual benefit and provide ample incentive for customers looking to curtail costs or fly in a more capable aircraft for a fraction of the sole ownership investment: Acquisition, fixed costs, and market depreciation are cut in half, and variable costs are split across each owner’s usage time.
Access can be customized across full weeks, or every other week, and specific owner requirements are addressed and negotiated. A typical PIA Managed Co-Owner flies 4 or 5 days a month on average, but depending on scheduling arrangements, an owner could have access to the aircraft up to 25 days a month, on average.
And, after analyzing where ad-hoc jet ownership partnerships frequently go south, PIA’s structure offers rock-solid protection against risk by establishing a manager selected by both owners that handles all aspects of the aircraft, and providing a legal structure that sharply defines how the aircraft is owned, how it is shared, how an owner can exit the partnership and also offers additional protections in the case of default.
“This program is more viable than anything I’ve seen in the past due to the structure,” aviation attorney and managing director of the Kansas City-based Cooling and Herbers law firm James Cooling says. “The agreement handles every decision upfront, so there should be no issues to hassle with down the road, including the exit plan.”