Last month, fractional provider Bombardier Flexjet announced a program for substituting a finance lease for the acquisition payment of a fractional share. Under the “Jet Rich Quick” program, customers pay no money down and a fixed monthly payment for the lease, which could involve a term of two or four years. They also pay the regular monthly management fee and the hourly occupied fee for time flown.
In an effort to improve its customer support, Bombardier has opened a new service center at Dallas Love Field and allocated shares equaling one Learjet 45 from its Flexjet fleet to deliver aircraft-on-ground (AOG) parts and mobile repair parties within the U.S. and in some instances transport stranded customers.
Bombardier delivered its first corporate-owned Challenger 300 to Dean Phillips Inc., a multi-services company based in Quincy, Ill. A Bombardier customer since 1993, Dean Phillips also operates a Learjet 60. Company president Dean Phillips and his wife both have Learjet type ratings. They have also received training to fly the super-midsize business jet.
The four largest fractional operators–NetJets, Flight Options, Flexjet and CitationShares–hired 11 pilots in March, compared with none during the same month last year, according to figures compiled by AIR Inc. of Atlanta. The March figure brings to 56 the number of fractional pilots hired in the first quarter, versus 47 in the same period last year.
At press time, Bombardier Aerospace expected to have delivered six copies of its newest business jet, the Learjet 40. In January the company delivered the first batch of Learjet 40s–two went to U.S.-based operators, two entered service with Bombardier’s Flexjet fractional-ownership program, one was delivered to a corporate operator based in Germany and the manufacturer expected to hand over one more before the end of last month.
When the economic bottom slipped from under the business aviation industry in 2001, those in the fractional ownership market were unsure where it would leave them. Recession was a new experience for those in the fractional market, which had come into its own in the mid-1990s, after the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Bombardier announced on Tuesday it is designating an aircraft dedicated to AOG parts delivery. At the same time it announced an improved facility. The company, which finished second-to-last ahead of only Sabreliner in last year’s AIN Product Support Survey, tapped in to its national Flexjet web of fractional-owned aircraft and crews, allocating the equivalent of a 100-percent share of one Learjet 45.
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. Customers who want to fly in or among any of these regions can opt for block-charter terms through the Canadian manufacturer’s existing Jet Membership card or take advantage of the ad hoc rates the manufacturer previously offered under the Skyjet name in the U.S.
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.