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VistaJet has a fleet century in its sights after confirming huge Bombardier order
Despite rapid expansion by a number of other operators, VistaJet believes agreed acquisitions will make it the second largest business aviation company outside of North America.

Despite rapid expansion by a number of other operators, VistaJet believes agreed acquisitions will make it the second largest business aviation company outside of North America. The Austrian based charter operator has ordered 35 Bombardier jets, with an option for 25 more, and is acquiring Bombardier Skyjet International.

The firm aircraft order is comprised of 11 Challenger 605s, 13 Learjet 60XRs and 11 of the newly introduced Learjet 85s. "This is the second largest order of Bombardier business jets in history," says Pierre Beaudoin, Bombardier president and ceo.

But VistaJet's coming completion of formalities to acquire Skyjet International, Bombardier's charter programme which has operations in Farnborough, Dubai and Hong Kong, could raise concerns among brokers according to Ocean Sky ceo Kurosh Tehranchian.

However, at EBACE VistaJet was focused on highlighting an order and acquisition designed to triple its existing fleet to more than 100 aircraft. "The bulk order and the purchase of Bombardier Skyjet International are in line with our plans to be the leader in this industry and accelerate our global expansion," says Thomas Flohr, chairman. "With Skyjet and VistaJet joining forces we aim to become the foremost business aviation company in Europe, Middle East and Asia, coupling pure luxury with affordability."

Bing Chen, ceo, says: "We offer the advantages of fleet commonality and Bombardier's strong commitment to customer support. The diversified fleet already meets the full range of customer needs and will soon be comprised of more than 30 medium to ultra-long range, state of the art jets with an average age of less than two years."

The current fleet includes Learjet 40XR and 60XR, Challenger 300, 604/605 and 850 and Global Express XRS aircraft. Flohr says that there will more than 100 aircraft available for charter by 2012. "The 30,000 hours of 2008 will increase to 100,000 hours in 2012," he adds.

Flohr says that VistaJet and Skyjet have natural synergy and fit with European and Asian operational strengths dovetailing and complementary business focuses. Chen adds: "Skyjet has strengths in Dubai and Hong Kong which VistaJet has not had. The products and business approaches also dovetail." Beaudoin stresses that Bombardier's American operations are excluded from the Skyjet deal.

Launched in March 2002 as Flexjet Europe and later rebranded, Skyjet International promised a "truly global" business jet charter service. It said that, by consolidating some of the world's leading charter operators into a single network, Skyjet International could provide a variety of innovative private jet travel options, each offering "unprecedented access" to more than 920 high performance aircraft.

Tehranchian says that it makes sense for European operators to expand into Asia and other emerging markets. The combined VistaJet and Skyjet operations suggests a scale that would mean competing with NetJets. "Competition will be tough," he adds, "It will be interesting to see how it turns out."

Exciting for industry but a worry for brokers, says Tehranchian

Ocean Sky ceo Kurosh Tehranchian says that VistaJet's news is very exciting for the industry but the takeover of Skyjet International may not please the broker fraternity. "It will seem to the brokers that VistaJet is getting into the Jet Card market and looking to establish a more direct link with more customers. The challenge will be to ensure that brokers are comfortable with this." Tehranchian says brokers who deal with Ocean Sky have expressed concerns to him.

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