Flexjet is to almost double its European fleet in the coming months, following a 180% annual increase in flight activity in the region in the first four months of 2022.
The company is adding three more super-midsize Praetor 600s to its European fleet before the end of May. It is also set to operate the Gulfstream G650 in Europe from July, following the success of its U.S. G650 programme, with two of the ultra-long-range jets based in Europe by the end of the year.
Flexjet has made significant investments in its European crew and infrastructure over the past six months to prepare for the fleet increase, opening a new state-of-the-art tactical control centre and office space at Farnborough Airport in April to form the operational heart of its European operation. This replaces its previous UK operations facility in St Albans, Hertfordshire and adds to its second European operational centre in Malta and sales centre in London's Mayfair. The company has also undertaken a focused hiring campaign for pilots, successfully adding 33 more to its European crew since November.
Flexjet European managing director, Marine Eugène, says: “We are delighted to confirm these significant investments, which are fuelling our continued expansion in Europe. Demand for our services continues to be exceptionally strong, with our fleet already seeing a more than 180% annual uplift in activity so far this year. New programme sales and forward bookings are also very robust, so we are well-prepared for a busy summer and second half of the year.
“The opening of our new facility at Farnborough Airport, which includes our state-of-the-art tactical control centre, represents a very significant investment in infrastructure and perfectly places our team on the site of one of Europe's most impressive business aviation airports, as we continue our ambitious plans to build Flexjet in Europe over the coming years. With Farnborough being such a key London gateway, we are also excited by the potential to broaden our offering here, including providing seamless central London connections via our group-operated helicopter fleet.”
The three new Praetor 600s are part of a global $1.4 billion order Flexjet placed with Embraer in 2019, when Flexjet was announced as the Praetor fleet launch customer. With a flight range of 7,441km, the high-performing jet is the only super-midsize aircraft capable of transatlantic flight.
Additionally, Flexjet has worked closely with the Embraer services and support aftermarket team this year to retrofit Ka-band Wi-Fi on its Legacy 500s, and says it is the only large fleet operator in Europe to offer the ultra-fast Wi-Fi connectivity on all its aircraft.
Eugène adds: “Our strong partnership with Embraer remains pivotal to the next phase of our expansion. The Praetor 600 is a fantastic aircraft, offering exceptional performance and unsurpassed comfort in its category. Our premium fleet offering, together with our Flexjet Red Label service experience, gives us a highly competitive position in the European shared ownership market.”
Flexjet has opened the tactical control centre, the operational heart of its European business, and office space for its operations and other support teams within Farnborough Airport's Meadow Gate building.
Farnborough Airport's CEO Simon Geere, says, “We're thrilled to welcome Flexjet to Farnborough Airport. The operator's exemplary focus on sustainability brings additional value to our airport, not to mention a boost to local employment and fiscal growth in the region. After becoming the first business airport to be awarded carbon neutral status in 2018 and making continued improvements in our environmental performance, this partnership further establishes our position as one of the most modern, well-connected and sustainably minded airports of its kind.”
Farnborough Airport became the first business airport to be awarded carbon neutral status in 2018 and made sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) available to its customers in 2021. This year Farnborough Airport has introduced electric ground power units and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), which reduces net greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%. Furthermore, this summer, Farnborough Airport will embark on a andpound;55 million investment programme to significantly expand its facilities and operational infrastructure by developing a new 175,000 sq ft state-of-the-art hangar facility, branded as Domus III. With Domus III, the airport will achieve some of the very highest environmental standards and the building itself will be rated by BREEAM, the world's leading sustainability assessment method for infrastructure and buildings.