As unclear as Flight Options’ future is, the situation at Flexjet is even less defined at this time. According to industry sources, a “significant” deal is pending that would involve the assets of Flexjet and charter operator Delta AirElite Business Jets. An announcement could come as early as this month.
Delta AirElite, headquartered at Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, traces its roots to 1984 when regional airline Comair purchased a single Learjet 25D to support the travel needs of Comair executives. In January 2000, a year after Comair’s acquisition by Delta Air Lines, the name was changed to Delta AirElite Business Jets. Its current fleet of some 25 owned and managed airplanes includes Learjets, Challengers, Gulfstream IV-SPs and a Citation II. The company also claims “charter availability” on more than 275 business jets throughout the U.S.
Speculation about the nature of the “significant deal” ranges from Delta AirElite operating some Flexjet aircraft under lease to a merger of the two companies.
If Delta does link up with Flexjet, it would mark the third foray into fractional ownership by a major airline. The attempt by UAL Corp., parent of United Airlines, to join the market with Avolar collapsed in March last year when efforts to find outside investors failed. And the 1995 marriage between American Airlines parent AMR and Bombardier to form Business JetSolutions, of which Flexjet was a part, was later dissolved, leaving Bombardier the sole administrator of the program.