A New York City bash on the deck of the Intrepid last night continued Flexjet’s six-city “Legends Redefined” tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Learjet. Attendees were invited to take a private tour of the Learjet 85 model and test-drive Aston Martins before sipping cocktails on the Hudson River. Flexjet has ordered 30 Learjet 85s, with deliveries scheduled to begin next year.
328 Group’s Jets has been named a Dassault Aviation authorized service center. The company can perform line maintenance on the Falcon 900 and 2000 at its London Biggin Hill MRO facility. Jets acquired the MRO business from Jet Aviation late last year. The company employs approximately 30 licensed B1 and B2 engineers at Biggin Hill and is recruiting more.
While the charter industry has seen some changes this year, the fractional-share business is undergoing a wrenching transition, with the shutdown of Avantair and the announced sale of Bombardier’s Flexjet to Flight Options parent Directional Capital.
Directional Aviation Capital (DAC)–the Kenn Ricci-led company that owns Flight Options, Sentient Jet, Nextant Aerospace and Constant Aviation, among others–announced last month that it is buying fractional provider Flexjet from Bombardier for $185 million. The transaction is expected to close by year-end, pending U.S. government approvals. All Flexjet employees, including president Deanna White, will remain in place, Ricci said.
VistaJet’s audacious deal with Bombardier to buy up to 142 new aircraft raised some industry eyebrows last year, in part because it seemed to signal a massive escalation of a fleet that currently consists of just 37 jets. But fleet replacement is a big part of a company business plan founded on operating only young aircraft still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. The average age of its aircraft now stands at less than two years.
VistaJet is moving into the U.S. private lift market with a new alliance with Jet Aviation Flight Services, which is to operate a fleet of 12 Bombardier Globals on its behalf. The Europe-based group has made clear its intention to target former and current fractional ownership clients in building its North American client base. Under the terms of an agreement announced on September 6 in New York City, the Europe-based private flight provider also is teaming with start-up membership-based program Wheels Up to market VistaJet’s Flight Solutions Program (FSP) to customers in the U.S.
TAG Engineering Le Bourget has joined Bombardier’s authorized service facility (ASF) network as an authorized line maintenance facility. The MRO is now able to provide line- and base-level maintenance services for the Learjet 60, Learjet 60XR, Challenger 300, Challenger 605, Global Express, Global Express XRS and Global 5000 as well as Global 5000 and Global 6000 equipped with the Bombardier Vision flight deck. It is the only Bombardier ASF at Le Bourget.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Learjet 23’s first flight this October 7, Flexjet launched a six-city U.S. tour dubbed “Legends Redefined.” The showcase features a Learjet 85 mockup, as well as products from other legendary brands, including Aston Martin, Scotch whisky maker Royal Salute and Napa Valley-based Ackerman Family Vineyards. Tour stops and dates are Menlo Park, Calif., September 17; Chicago, September 23; Columbus, Ohio, September 26; Washington, D.C., October 1; New York City, October 7; and Houston, October 15.
The fleet of its Russian-based Gulfstream business jets has grown more than sixfold in the last six years, the Savannah, Ga.-based aircraft manufacturer said yesterday at the first day of the three-day Jet Expo 2013 show in Moscow. It said there are 53 customer-operated Gulfstreams in Russia and a combined 76 in Russia and the wider Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In 2007 those numbers were eight and 11, respectively, Gulfstream said.
With the exception of the heavy jet category, charter flight demand seems to be tailing off at the end of the Northern Hemisphere summer vacation season. The latest forward-looking demand index from online charter portal Avinode shows demand dipping for light and midsize jets over the next 30 days.