NBAA Convention News

Flexjet offers airlift solutions

 - October 21, 2009, 10:42 AM

Flexjet, Bombardier Aerospace’s fractional-share program, announced a reconfigured product offering at NBAA, with an emphasis on its ability to offer supplemental lift and other aviation solutions to corporate flight departments.  
Though fractional programs have experienced declining revenues during the past year as owners have cut back on aircraft usage, Flexjet, based in Richardson, Texas, believes in the long-term viability of the fractional ownership concept.

“I’m totally not in line with those who say the fractional model is dead,” Flexjet president Fred Reid told NBAA Convention News. “Our core remains fractional, but we need to be more nimble and relevant to our customers.”

Under the Flexjet reconfiguration, those customers may increasingly be corporate flight departments. Reid thinks press reports of wholesale shuttering of corporate flight departments are overblown, but believes corporate operators have become more focused on efficiency of operations. For some, a fractional share may make more sense than buying an additional aircraft. Others may find selling an aircraft or two from a fleet in favor of fractional ownership to be an optimum solution, he said. As part of the spectrum of potential solutions, Flexjet will also be highlighting its charter capabilities.

“The key word for us is ‘supplemental,’” said Reid. “Corporate flight departments are particularly discerning when choosing suppliers they use for backup lift and are looking for providers who can offer multiple solutions. With Flexjet’s  newly enhanced continuum of services, we are the only business aviation company ready to meet their challenges with a complete set of customizable backup lift options.”

The solutions Flexjet offers also include a Walk Away Lease program, which provides many of the benefits of fractional ownership but with an exit option, exercisable with a 90-day notice. Its Flexjet 25 Jet Card, operated by Jet Solutions, features a combination card that allows card holders to fly half their hours in one aircraft type and half in a second aircraft type.

The company believes differentiators that helped define its fractional program, such as having the newest fleet among fractional providers, the efficiency of its scheduling system and its all-Bombardier fleet will find traction among companies seeking supplemental lift. Flexjet has brought aboard sales personnel dedicated to courting and serving corporate flight departments, and Reid said several major corporate aviation users have expressed interest in using Flexjet for supplemental lift. The company can service their needs with its current fleet, Reid said.

Flexjet’s financials are included in Bombardier’s accounting and not reported separately, but Reid said the company “continues to earn an operating profit,” though it has been hurt by write downs associated with the declining value of business aircraft. He ascribes the reported problems at other fractional providers simply to “overcapacity,” which he says Flexjet itself previously faced and took steps to correct. The company currently operates about 85 jets.

For its traditional customers, Flexjet continues to offer special programs like its limited-edition jet cards, which in addition to flight time, provide buyers with access to exclusive events and unique experiences  “Every year we like to offer customers something experiential that money literally can’t buy,” Reid said.

This year the company is offering a Gold Edition Flexjet 25 jet card that will give buyers behind the scenes access to the XXI Olympic Winter Games to be held in Vancouver, Canada, including access to the most popular events and meetings with award-winning athletes.

NBAA attendees who need supplemental lift or traditional fractional ownership can find out more about the programs and possibly win a four-hour demo flight in a Challenger 300 at the Bombardier Aerospace booth (No. 4397). Anyone with a qualifying title, including chief pilot, director of aviation, director of maintenance or chief dispatcher, is eligible to enter a drawing for the flight time after meeting with an on-site Flexjet representative.