Charter operator VistaJet is bucking market trends by reporting a 20-percent increase in revenues for 2009. The financial results, announced here at the EBACE show yesterday contrast with drops in revenue at other operators of between 10 and 40 percent over the same period, according to the Swiss operator.
Since last year, VistaJet expanded its fleet of Bombardier aircraft by 30 percent, from 19 to 26. The company will be accepting delivery of another two jets this year (five total in 2010) as it gradually ramps up expansion plans that prior to the economic downturn had called for a fleet of more than 100 aircraft. During 2009, passenger numbers exceeded 16,500, with more than 7,250 movements, both increases of more than 20 percent over 2008.
According to VistaJet founder and chairman Thomas Flohr, the growth in charter demand has accelerated so far this year. “There was a huge sea-change as of about mid February, after January had been slightly up,” he told AIN. “March was the second most successful month we have ever had. There has been more buzz than for the past two years in terms of bookings and people buying blocks of hours.”
VistaJet has also seen increased demand for clients to invest in whole aircraft and have these managed by the operator, which makes them available for charter. “The waiting has stopped and people are now ready to commit,” said Flohr, adding that aircraft values have started to increase noticeably in the last six weeks or so. He said that credit has become more readily available as illustrated by the fact that VistaJet has been able to finance two new aircraft purchases in the past couple of months.
Flohr, who owns 100 percent of the company, said he will continue to invest in the expansion of VistaJet, particularly within the Middle East and Asia. “To maintain our cutting edge, we cannot stand still,” he said. “VistaJet is well capitalized and has a robust balance sheet [and] with the strong support of our lending banks, we are in an excellent position to take the company to the next stage of its strategic plan.”
VistaJet operates an all-Bombardier fleet with aircraft ranging in size from the Learjet 40 to the Global Express XRS. Deliveries received this year will likely include a pair of new Challenger 850s and another XRS. Flohr said the company’s airplanes fly on average about 800 hours per year.
The sales team at VistaJet is stepping up efforts to present its block charter programs to people who are about to leave fractional ownership programs. The company claims that its programs offer greater flexibility and contractual transparency than fractional ownership. Two airplanes in VistaJet’s current fleet are wholly owned by customers and managed by VistaJet.
VistaJet recently launched a new alliance with U.S. fractional ownership provider Flexjet and Jet Solutions, which operates flights for the Flexjet 25 block charter card. The alliance provides customers with seamless access in their respective service areas. Flexjet is owned by Bombardier.
“This is much easier for both the client and our companies because effectively we have set up an automatic booking process,” said Flohr. It also closes an important market gap for VistaJet which does not have its own operation in North America and gives it a worldwide charter network.
VistaJet is headquartered in Switzerland and has operations in Salzburg, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.