By Ethan Alter
Updated August 10, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Owning a private jet may be the ultimate status symbol. But unless you’re John Travolta, who wants to deal with the nitty-gritty, like maintenance and pilot training? Enter NetJets, a ”fractional ownership” program conceived by Executive Jet, Inc., that guarantees participants a plane at their disposal without the hassles of ownership. Customers purchase shares in a specific jet, which translate into the number of hours they plan to occupy the aircraft (a one-quarter share, for example, equals 200 hours per year, and so on). NetJets takes care of the plane’s upkeep and other day-to-day responsibilities. Naturally, the program has become a big hit with celebrities (Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, ‘N Sync, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and David Letterman are among the current clientele) as well as the Hamptons crowd. ”Our biggest source of new business is word of mouth,” says Kevin Russell, senior VP of Executive Jet. Bet the inflight movies are a lot better too.