Flexjet sale paves way for ultra-long range fleet buy

Washington DC
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Flexjet is considering placing a new order for an ultra-long range business jet fleet as part of its pending divestiture by Bombardier to a Cleveland-based private equity firm Directional Aviation Capital.

The planned acquisition of a new fleet in the Bombardier Global 6000 and Gulfstream G550 class would come on top of the order announced on 5 September for 85 Bombardier jets worth $1.2 billion at list prices, with options for another 160 jets, says Flexjet president Deanna White.

Directional Aviation Capital, the firm founded by Kenn Ricci that also includes Flight Options and Sentient Jet, plans to close the acquisition of Flexjet by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Flexjet will continue developing its strategy to add international, long-haul service to its portfolio.

"As we conduct this transaction and bring it to close we will be looking with our new investment group at our international strategy," White says.

White acknowledged that Flexjet's new ownership means the company is no longer restricted to buying only Bombardier aircraft. At the same time, the $1.2 billion order announced on 5 September, which includes Challenger 605s and 350s and Learjet 75/85s, indicates that Flexjet's 18-year relationship with Bombardier remains strong despite the ownership change, she says.

The divestment also means Flexjet will operate alongside two other fractional and charter jet companies owned by Ricci's Directional Aviation Capital. White says that Flexjet's luxury service offering is expected to complement the "value-based" product offered by Flight Options and the charter service provided by Sentient Jet.

As for Bombardier, the divestment is not likely to significantly alter its prospects in the fractional jet market, White says. Despite owning a competing service with Flexjet, Bombardier still managed to sell its own aircraft to rival firms, such as Netjets, VistaJet and Exojet, she says.

The acquisition of FlexJet adds another major brand to Directional Aviation Capital's portfolio of companies offering a full-range of charter, fractional ownership, maintenance and aircraft management services. The firm's companies already generate $1.1 billion in annual revenues.

"Private aviation is Directional's passion and Flexjet joining our family is yet another example how we are reshaping the industry," Ricci says.