A meeting between company officials and the Flight Options pilot union planned for today and tomorrow is intended to address issues arising from the consolidation of fractional-share operations Flexjet and Flight Options. Flight Options parent Directional Aviation Capital purchased Flexjet from Bombardier last December for about $195 million.
The top scheduled destinations for Flexjet owners over this Valentine’s Day holiday weekend include Aspen; New York City; Palm Beach, Fla.; the Caribbean; and Mexico, including Cabo and Puerto Vallarta, according to the fractional provider’s analysis of hundreds of customer flight plans. It said travelers are evenly split into two categories this year: those who are looking for a getaway to the snow and others who prefer to bask in the sun. Nearly two-thirds of Flexjet’s holiday travelers are booked on a super-midsize Challenger 300 or large-cabin Challenger 604, it noted.
A busy year for upheaval in the fractional ownership and closed-fleet private aviation sectors reached a crescendo in December when Flight Options parent company Directional Aviation Capital completed its $185 million acquisition of Bombardier’s Flexjet program.
The worldwide supply of used aircraft is revisiting a level not seen in more than five years, despite a growing business jet population that saw nearly 4,000 enter service during that period. The U.S. claimed nearly half of those new aircraft deliveries, followed by Europe and Asia, South America and Africa and Australia. One might speculate that if a buyer is purchasing a business jet in a down economy there must be an excellent reason for the investment, and perhaps this is why only 200 of those delivered during this period have made their way onto the used market.
Flexjet saw a 60-percent surge in new fractional aircraft sales and a 57-percent jump in jet card sales last month year-over-year, the company announced yesterday. For the entire year, Flexjet’s fractional share sales rose 10 percent, while jet card sales climbed 29 percent over 2012. After 18 years under Bombardier Aerospace’s wing, Flexjet was acquired last month by Directional Aviation Capital.
Bombardier Aerospace delivered 180 business jets last year, up one from 2012. However, the Canadian aircraft manufacturer missed its 2013 guidance by 10 business airplanes, “mainly due to the transition from the Learjet 40XR and Learjet 45XR to the Learjet 70 and Learjet 75, which entered service in the fourth quarter.” The company originally expected deliveries of these revamped light jets to start in the third quarter. It shipped 29 Learjets, 89 Challengers and 62 Globals last year, compared with 39 Learjets, 86 Challengers and 54 Globals in 2012.
Flexjet is offering two limited-time offers–25 Challenger 300 upgrade hours and “60 for 50”–to spur fractional jet ownership sales in its Learjet and Challenger programs. Until December 31, new and existing Flexjet owners purchasing a one-sixteenth share in a Learjet 40XR, 45XR or 60XR will have the opportunity to upgrade 25 of their annual allocated hours, at their same Learjet hourly occupied rate, to a Challenger 300.
Bombardier closed the sale of Flexjet to Flexjet LLC, a newly created company funded by Directional Aviation Capital, last week, though aircraft are still being transferred to the new owner. When the deal was announced on September 5, the acquisition price was $185 million; following “purchase price adjustments,” it is now estimated at $195 million, including the “assumption of an estimated $70 million of customer advances” by Directional’s Flexjet LLC.
Flexjet and Abercrombie & Kent introduced “Passport to the World,” the first completely private jet experience circumnavigating the globe. For $1.5 million, guests will travel for two weeks aboard a Challenger 605 operated by Jet Solutions to seven landmark destinations and get “exclusive access to hidden wonders that are out of reach to the rest of the world,” ranging from the Forbidden City to the Taj Mahal. It includes a Japanese tea ceremony in Kyoto and a private opening of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, off limits to the public.
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