VistaJet is set to embark on a 17-city tour of Africa this month as part of the operator’s “Think Global” sales campaign to expand its block charter offerings to emerging markets. Last month, the Switzerland-based company took one of its Bombardier Global 6000s on a 12-city tour of Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Middle East, just days after announcing a contract with the Canadian airframer for 56 new Globals and options on 86 more.
Late last year VistaJet said it was on course to carry 25,000 passengers on more than 10,000 flights during the course of 2012, flying to approximately 1,080 destinations. Thomas Flohr, the company’s founder and chairman, reported that the company has achieved flight volume growth of approximately 25 percent over the past 12 months and that this has been fairly consistent, with growth logged even in the economically weak years of 2009, 2010 and 2011. He said that all new aircraft purchases are funded purely from cash flow; the privately owned company has published no other financial data.
“Since its inception the company has always been profitable,” said Flohr. “We had two flat years, but we never lost money and we have very positive cash flow from growth and efficiencies from having just a few aircraft types in our fleet to drive our cost base down.”
Customers buy blocks of hours, with terms and conditions defined in simple three-page contracts that lay out the quarterly payments for flight hours. There are no surcharges or management fees and clients can use fewer or more than the agreed number of annual hours on a scale ranging from 80 percent to 120 percent of the contract amount. According to VistaJet, the average customer commitment is for 100 to 150 flight hours per year for three years.
Since its launch seven years ago, VistaJet has received 50 Bombardier aircraft and, as of last month, 29 of these were in service. The average age of the fleet is just under two years and the company has a policy of replacing aircraft that are between three and four years old, typically with approximately 18 months remaining on their five-year warranty. The operator has some trade-in options with Bombardier, but for the most part aims to resell aircraft on the open market.
Deliveries of the latest batch of Globals on order are due to start in January 2014 and should continue at a rate of around one per month. The aircraft covered by the new contract consist of 25 Global 5000s (plus options for 40 more), 25 Global 6000s (plus options for 40 more) and six Global 8000s (plus options on another six).
Flohr said that despite having so far stuck to an all-Bombardier fleet, VistaJet did consider other manufacturers before signing the latest deal, valued at up to $7.8 billion. From previously placed orders, it is already set to receive seven more Globals this year.
VistaJet currently employs some 150 pilots around the world. Of these, about 80 percent are full-time employees of the company, with the remainder being self-employed but committed exclusively to VistaJet operations.