Shell buys into Flexjet Asia program

 - May 9, 2008, 5:04 AM

Shell Aircraft International has signed a multi-year block-charter contract with Rainbow Jet of Beijing, China, under the auspices of Bombardier’s Flexjet Asia-Pacific program. The operator will use a pair of Challenger 604s to carry the oil company’s personnel throughout China, largely in support of pipeline work. The contract initially calls for 150 annual flight hours.

Rainbow Jet, part of China’s Shandong Airlines, has been subjected to technical and operational audits by both Shell’s London-based flight department and the Flexjet program. Supplementary capacity can be provided by the other four Flexjet Asia-Pacific operators, namely Macao-based Jet Asia; Subic Air Charter of Manila, the Philippines; ExecuJet Australia; and Singapore Technologies subsidiary Pacific Flight Services. These firms offer a mix of Learjets and Challengers. Subic is due to add a Bombardier Challenger 300 to its fleet next year.

The Shell contract is among the largest Flexjet Asia-Pacific deals to be signed since the program began operations in February and the first to be publicly announced. Flexjet Asia-Pacific is headquartered in Hong Kong and also has an office in Washington, D.C.

“We’ve done well in our first nine months of operation; in fact, we’ve exceeded many of our internal expectations,” said Flexjet Asia-Pacific general manager Gregory Kalinin.

Flexjet Asia-Pacific offers assurances about the service quality and safety of its partner operators. All aircraft must be less than 10 years old, and operators are subject to audit by Wyvern Aviation Consulting of the U.S.

Separately, Beijing-based charter operator China Ocean Aviation Group started operating a new Challenger 800 (formerly the Bombardier Corporate Jetliner and derived from the CRJ200). The aircraft can seat 34 passengers in a two-class configuration and will be used mainly to carry Chinese government officials.

In January China Ocean Aviation (operating on behalf of Poly Technologies) took delivery of a 50-seat CRJ200. This is now to be retrofitted with a 34-seat corporate configuration. Six Challenger 800s are now operating in China, as well as five Challenger 601/604s.