VLJ activity has rebounded strongly in Europe, at the expense of traditional light jets such as Citations and Learjets, according to speakers at the annual Business Aircraft Europe event, held at London Biggin Hill Airport on September 11 and 12. The event grew out of Light Jets Europe, which started in 2007 but was renamed after the VLJ (very light jet) sector nosedived with much of the rest of the industry when the global financial crisis hit five years ago.
News and issues relating to business, corporate and private aviation, primarily regarding turbine-engine powered airplanes and helicopters. Subjects include aircraft, engines, personnel, acquisitions, accidents, safety, security and training.
During day two of the U.S. government shutdown, 15,000 FAA employees were still off the job on furlough and the business aviation community appears to have found the early impact of the closure to be greater than anticipated with disruption to several important FAA functions that were not impacted by previous Federal government shutdowns.
Hangar8 expects to open a new FBO on Jeresy, one of the Channel Islands, in early 2015. According to the UK-based group’s CEO, Dustin Dryden, the year-long construction project is slated to begin in the offshore tax shelter by the start of next year. Dryden indicated that Hangar8 is exploring plans to expand further into the FBO sector. “We see this as a way to improve the facilities and the service we receive ourselves [as an aircraft operator] and we may buy our way into existing [ground handling] markets where established skills and facilities are available,” he explained.
For the first time since the used jet market began to unravel, inventory sits below the level of October 2008. Year-over-year for the past four years, more inventory has been departing the market than has been arriving onto the market and this year could prove a continuation of that trend, with inventory already below last year’s 12-month moving average as the market enters what is historically the most active quarter for aircraft sales.
FltPlan.com said that there have been no glitches with general aviation pilots using its new pre-departure clearance (PDC) delivery system, which was rolled out in May, despite early concerns they would have difficulty interpreting PDCs. “There haven’t been any instances of pilot deviations based on general aviation pilots using our system,” said FltPlan.com president Ken Wilson.
Hong Kong-based Asian Sky Group recently closed four “high-level contracts to provide corporate sales and service work for important Asian-based clients,” it announced today. The transactions included the outfitting acceptance on schedule for a new ACJ318 completed by Lufthansa Technik for a Japanese client; an agreement to oversee and manage an ACJ319 from green delivery through to its redelivery from the Airbus Corporate Jet Center for a Chinese client; the sale of a pre-owned ACJ319 to a Chinese client; and the green delivery of a new BBJ1 from Boeing for a Chinese client.
Over the half dozen years since the unwelcome intervention of the 2008/09 financial crisis, the aircraft management and charter market has not been a business for the faint-hearted. Tough trading conditions have served up challenges and opportunities in equal measure, laying the groundwork for the classic “survival of the fittest” story line in which the stronger players are able to turn their struggling competitors’ misfortune to their advantage.
Private aircraft catering is trapped in the 1990s, according to VistaJet founder and chairman Thomas Flohr. His frustration has prompted him to forge an alliance with high-end restaurant group Nobu to offer a special menu for VistaJet clients. For now, the Nobu meals are available only on flights out of London, Dubai and Los Angeles, but the operator is working to add the option for other cities where Nobu has restaurants.
“We’re looking at what is happening in the rest of the world so that we can bring it to aviation,” said Flohr. “This is what makes my life exciting.”
VistaJet’s audacious deal with Bombardier to buy up to 142 new aircraft raised some industry eyebrows last year, in part because it seemed to signal a massive escalation of a fleet that currently consists of just 37 jets. But fleet replacement is a big part of a company business plan founded on operating only young aircraft still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. The average age of its aircraft now stands at less than two years.
VistaJet is moving into the U.S. private lift market with a new alliance with Jet Aviation Flight Services, which is to operate a fleet of 12 Bombardier Globals on its behalf. The Europe-based group has made clear its intention to target former and current fractional ownership clients in building its North American client base. Under the terms of an agreement announced on September 6 in New York City, the Europe-based private flight provider also is teaming with start-up membership-based program Wheels Up to market VistaJet’s Flight Solutions Program (FSP) to customers in the U.S.