NBAA Convention News

New leader promises to revitalize Flight Options

 - October 7, 2008, 7:49 AM

Acknowledging that Flight Options had strayed from its original vision, company founder Kenn Ricci and CEO Michael Silvestro, both of whom returned to the operation in recent months, have announced initiatives designed to “recapture the energy we had” at the beginning.

“I don’t blame the [previous] management [for the loss of energy],” Silvestro said. “The owner at the time thought it was better to be smaller.” He added, however, that the current management and owner–H.I.G. Capital, which bought the company from Raytheon in 2007–are dedicated to growth.

Speaking here at the show, Silvestro said the company has a new logo, will repaint and refurbish all airplanes in its fleet within 15 months and has put six new salespeople in charge of its Midwest, South Central, Southeast, Great Lakes, New England and New York territories.

Silvestro said the company was founded as a “value proposition” and intends to “reclaim the value space.” In this regard, he pointed to Flight Options’ purchase of 150 Embraer Phenom 300s, which will be added to the company’s fleet beginning late next year. Silvestro predicted the Phenom 300 will be a “category killer” because the aircraft’s $1,250 base hourly cost compares favorably with the cost of competing models. As evidence, he cited base hourly charges for NetJets’ Hawker Beechcraft Hawker 400XPs and Cessna Citation Encores and FlexJet’s Bombardier Learjet 40 of $1,786, $1,781 and $1,825, respectively.

As further evidence of Flight Options’ focus on value, Silvestro announced a “loyalty incentive” for the company’s current fractional owners who are considering an investment in the Phenom 300. He said Flight Options will give such owners a residual-value guarantee on their current aircraft, will waive a remarketing fee and will lock rates until delivery of the Phenoms. In addition, the company will offer a “modest” deposit schedule, with an initial payment that could be as low as $25,000.
Silvestro additionally described a new program he dubbed “Fly Free,” which he said is aimed at the personal traveler who cannot deduct travel costs for tax purposes. Under the program, such travelers can purchase a whole aircraft that would be added to the Flight Options fleet. In exchange for its use, the company would either pay the customers or credit them with flying time. The credit or payment would cover about 77 annual flight hours if the customer purchased a Beechjet 400A or 112 hours if the customer bought a Hawker 800XP.