The Transatlantic Express fixed-price charter service Bombardier introduced this summer has taken off, with round-trip flights booked between Europe and the U.S. at least once a week. In fact, the manufacturer is so encouraged by demand for the service that it is considering plans to expand it beyond the East Coast of the U.S. The service currently provides access to some 700 airports in Europe and the Eastern U.S.
Bombardier has launched Skyjet International as a global network of fixed-rate executive charter services spanning North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.
Bolstered by the introduction of the Challenger 300 and Learjet 40, Dallas-based fractional aircraft ownership operator Flexjet said it saw a 32-percent increase in the sale of shares last year compared with the year before.
The second and final test Bombardier Global 5000 took its first, four-hour flight northwest of Toronto on January 8. During the inaugural flight it reached an altitude of 17,000 feet and an indicated airspeed of 340 knots.
With the exception of Bombardier Flexjet, 13 major and minor players in the fractional industry continued their growth cycle last year, according to Wichita-based AvData. Total net shares last year surged past 6,200, up 6.7 percent from 2002. During the same period, the fractional turbine fleet grew 6.1 percent–to more than 800 aircraft.
Bombardier’s fractional aircraft ownership division, Flexjet, is now operating the first Challenger 300s to enter service. Flexjet is scheduled to receive 25 of the super-midsize business jets. At press time, Flexjet had logged 64 hours in 43 flights using the new aircraft, with “no issues,” according to a Bombardier spokesman.
Learjets and Challengers have a Teterboro (TEB) maintenance option as Bombardier is now offering drop-in and line service support at the repair station that has previously been dedicated to the Flexjet fractional fleet. The company cited the desire to increase its service and maintenance capacity throughout its domestic service center network.
This month, French company Aviaxess will open a helicopter FBO at Paris Heliport, Issy-le-Molyneaux, in addition to starting a fractional helicopter and jet program.
The four major fractional aircraft operators hired 482 pilots last year compared with 198 in 2003, bringing the total roster of fractional pilots to 3,649 last year, according to aviation hiring firm AIR in Atlanta.
Bombardier Flexjet, the U.S.-based fractional business jet arm of Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, last month announced it would begin operations in--where else--Canada. Flexjet Canada has started operations with three Canadian-registered aircraft–two Learjet 45s and a Challenger 604–formerly in the Bombardier corporate fleet and 10 Montreal-based pilots.