U.S. fractional ownership and charter provider Flexjet announced here in Geneva on Sunday night that it will start flying within Europe in the third or fourth quarter of this year, using a fleet of eight Nextant 400XTi light jets. To allow it to provide point-to-point service in the region, the company has signed a letter of intent to acquire a yet-unnamed Europe-based company with an existing air operating certificate (AOC). This acquisition is expected to close in the second half of this year, after which it will start its European service.
Initially, Flexjet will offer on-demand and membership programs in Europe at a targeted per-mile price that is comparable with turboprop or very light jet offerings in Europe. Access to its dedicated 400XTi fleet is expected to be offered on a limited basis through select charter brokers, the company said.
In addition, Flexjet will offer tailored international programs to European-based business aircraft owners looking to exit whole-aircraft ownership, as well as users of charter services looking for a more personalized service. Wider offerings, including fractional shares or jets cards, could be added later on as more models enter its European fleet, according to Flexjet president and CEO Mike Silvestro.
Flexjet’s North American customers will also be able to access the company’s European fleet. For example, a U.S. Flexjet fractional share owner could use Flexjet’s Global Access program to fly into Europe and then use one of its 400XTis for intra-Europe travel. Launched in late March, Global Access provides access to Flexjet’s long-range, large-cabin aircraft–currently three Bombardier Global Expresses and six Gulfstream G450s–for transatlantic travel, billed at hourly rates that decrease the longer the distance flown. The Gulfstream G650 will join the Global Access fleet this year, followed by the G500 in 2018 and the Aerion AS2, scheduled in 2023.
Raymond Jones, the former senior v-p of sales at Bombardier Business Aircraft, will head Flexjet’s non-U.S. operations as managing director for international. Jones, who joined Flexjet last year, said that he and his European sales and marketing team will be based in London, while its regional aircraft operations center will be based elsewhere in Europe at a location that has still to be determined.
According to Jones, two each of the 400XTis will be based in London and Paris–the exact airports have not yet been selected–with two additional cities in central and/or eastern European to be named by year-end. Its European-based aircraft will be registered in a yet-to-be-determined European country. Silvestro ruled out Malta, where several other leading European charter operators are based.
The remanufactured Nextant light jets were chosen for their good intra-European range and comfortable cabins, Silvestro said. They will each have a complete refreshment center, fully enclosed aft lavatory, a three-place divan and Wi-Fi connectivity.
“This is just the starting point for Flexjet in Europe. We will have more, larger aircraft based in the region at some point,” Silvestro told AIN, without elaborating on which models he meant or when they will be added. “We see a lot of opportunity in Europe, so we expect our operations to quickly grow there.”
Flexjet chairman Kenneth Ricci commented, “We will serve the global marketplace with programs and services that are tailored to the needs of private jet travelers, while also offering our North American base of shared aircraft owners the ability to travel internationally without ever having to leave the Flexjet family.”.
Both Flexjet and Nextant Aerospace are part of Ricci’s Directional Aviation group.