BAN's World GazetteerOhio
US-based fractional and management company Flexjet is bringing its business model to Europe and expects EU ops to commence in Q4 of this year. It is looking to provide point-to-point solutions for its existing North American client base as well as new international customers, and will be led in Europe by MD Raymond Jones. Offering both fractional and on demand charter, it will acquire an undisclosed company in Europe in order to make use of its AOC.
“We will serve the global marketplace with programmes and services that are astutely tailored to the needs of private jet travellers, while also offering our North American base of shared aircraft owners the ability to travel internationally without ever having to leave the Flexjet family,” says chairman Kenn Ricci. “Ray Jones' all-encompassing knowledge of the international market will afford us a tremendous advantage as we establish a significant operation here in Europe.”
Jones, former senior VP of sales at Bombardier, says: “I have long admired Kenn's vision for Flexjet's expansion and am delighted to have the opportunity to lead the company's international operations. Flexjet is making private jet travel between North America and the international domain more accessible than ever, and is introducing an unprecedented level of service quality into the market. I look forward to working with the superb team Kenn has assembled.”
Although he is relishing the challenge ahead, Jones admits that a steady and measured approach is the sensible one to take when entering Europe. “We have considered Europe and it has been an agenda item for some time, but the market is such that one has to be careful as you come into it. You have to make the right decisions, and grow slowly, and make sure that you are taking all the back bearings, particularly in a difficult period as it is at the moment.
“The business model is still emerging. We know that there are some things that we would really like to address first. We have a lot of clients based in North America and we know that for a long period of time they have desired a service here the same as that in the US, so that the whole experience is a Flexjet experience. We looked first of all at what we have and at what is being asked of us by our installed base of clients, and that drives one of the pieces of the jigsaw. I think new business models are going to be necessary in order to capture the business going forward.”
As well as ordering a fleet of eight Nextant 400XTis for European operations, Flexjet has doubled its firm Challenger 350 order to 40 aircraft as part of its Red Label offering, and many of these are likely to be flying in Europe. A Flexjet Legacy 500, Embraer's 1,000th business jet, was recently cleared to operate to London City. “All the products that we have we are pleased with, and we are moving into an operating platform in Europe,” Jones explains. “The aircraft we will be bringing in first are EMEA in terms of range. The licence and the AOC will be here in Europe.
“In all of our aircraft, the interiors are very important for us. We try to set ourselves a little bit aside, a little bit artisan in what we do.”