Lisbon-headquartered Jet Republic has ordered 110 Learjet 60XRs to provide the fleet backbone of a private jet club service that will offer flight attendants as a service differential.
"The 60XR was chosen because it flies the fastest, highest and furthest of any midsize business aircraft," says ceo Jonathan Breeze. "It is also the most fuel efficient aircraft in its class and a mid-size aircraft is the perfect type of aircraft for European fractional business jet usage."
But he adds: "Although the 60XR will provide the backbone of our fractional fleet, we can offer our members access to a wide range of aircraft through our global operating partners."
Jet Republic is targeting potential aircraft owners who can purchase or lease 1/16 or more of a 60XR with the basic cost starting at US$875,000. "At the end of the term owners can sell their stake or purchase a share in another aircraft," Breeze says.
Alternatively Private Jet Card members can purchase blocks of 25 hours' flight time on a range of new-generation jets in any category - light, midsize, large or global - provided through partners.
The deal signed with Bombardier is for 25 aircraft to be delivered over the first 22 months. The remaining aircraft will be delivered at the rate of one every three weeks thereafter. The first 60XR will be available from summer 2009 but Jet Republic is already taking enquiries about its earlier Jet Card programme launch.
Breeze says the $1.5 billion 60XR order will enable Jet Republic to offer services across Europe. But he adds: "Initially our main focus will be Russia, Switzerland, France, Germany and the UK. We do also expect demand from high net worth individuals in the Middle East and Eastern Europe who will appreciate the service. The 60XR cabins have been redesigned with the latest communications and security systems installed along with improved seating."
Breeze says the company's sound and robust business plan has enabled it to secure funding despite the economic downturn. "The company has substantial financial backing from Euram Bank, the leading Austrian private bank, and a consortium of its clients," Breeze says. "Jet Republic was able to secure this funding as a result of the quality of its management team, which has considerable experience in the aviation, luxury and concierge industries, and strong growth in the private aviation market."
Breeze says the number of high net worth individuals is rising between 7 per cent and 8 per cent year on year in western Europe alone and business travel is now accepted as a business necessity. "Despite the current economic climate, the private jet market is enjoying strong growth. This, coupled with the fact that we believe there is significant room for improvement in the level of service provided by the private jet aviation sector, means there is a very strong and real opportunity for us to take a significant share of this market. We have the right proposition, an extremely talented management team to deliver on our strategy and the financial support to bring it to life."
The 60XR, he points out, can fly fuel efficiently at 51,000 ft and offer time-saving capabilities, reduced air traffic noise and less turbulence. "It can seat seven passengers who will be served hot meals and fresh espresso coffee by a multi-lingual flight attendant while they watch iPod video through the cabin system. Jet Republic is the aviation equivalent to a five-star boutique hotel," says Breeze.
The company says it has access to over 1,000 destinations in Europe, with guaranteed aircraft availability at as little as 24 hours' notice. "The highest level of end-to-end global concierge opens doors to members in any city worldwide, from dinner reservations to theatre tickets. A virtual executive aide is on-call day and night with the full resources of the worldwide network."
Jet Republic's management team includes senior personnel who previously worked for companies including GlaxoSmithKline, NetJets, WhiteConcierge, the Royal Air Force, Air Partner plc, Financial Times Group, TAG Aviation, Execujet, Groundforce One, Rolls-Royce, Sotheby's, Siemens, Marriott International, Bombardier, Euram Bank and McKinsey & Co. Breeze, for instance, joined NetJets in 2002 as a Citation XL pilot before becoming an instructor and Falcon 900 captain.
Jet Republic says it will partner with ClimateCare to be 100 per cent carbon neutral from launch. Aircraft will be registered in Portugal and maintenance will be carried out at Bombardier approved maintenance facilities across Europe.
Bob Horner, svp sales, Bombardier Business Aircraft, says: "The private jet market is going from strength to strength, despite a downturn in the US and world economies. In fact, the Business Aircraft Market Forecast predicts US$300 billion in deliveries over the next 10-year period." He adds: "Bombardier estimates that the worldwide business jet fleet will nearly double in the next 10 years from 12,800 to 24,800 in 2017 and we expect Europe's share to grow from 13 per cent to 25 per cent of the market."