Flexjet begins adding Gulfstream jets to its fleet.
In a hangar at the Savannah, Ga., headquarters of Gulfstream Aerospace (gulfstream.com) earlier this summer, two new customized versions of the G450 gleamed under spotlights, commanding the attention of the small group of guests and media members who had been invited to watch the fractional-shares provider Flexjet (flexjet.com) take delivery of the large-class business jets. They are the first two planes in a 50-aircraft order that Flexjet placed with Gulfstream last year. The deal includes 22 firm orders and options to buy an additional 28 aircraft.
In front of the audience, which included Gulfstream engineers and technicians who developed the G450, Kenneth Ricci, the principal of Flexjet parent company Directional Aviation Capital, spoke about his affinity for Gulfstream aircraft, how he has logged about 4,000 hours piloting Gulfstreams, and how he recently bought his own GV.
Later, Ricci spoke about his plans to make Flexjet the fractional-industry leader by adding a fleet of new long-range Gulfstream aircraft and by offering clients a new premium program that includes a dedicated crew for each jet and customized interiors for the aircraft, and another new program with a pricing system based on flight distances instead of flight times.
Flexjet is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. For its first 18 years it was owned by the aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, which supplied all of the jets for the fractional fleet. With the addition of the two G450 models, the company can now offer Gulfstream jets for the first time. Following the delivery ceremony, Ricci, seated in a leather armchair in one of Flexjet’s new aircraft, explained that the decision to place the order with Gulfstream came just after NetJets—the fractional industry’s leading company—signed a major purchase deal with Bombardier. “Since NetJets went with Bombardier, we asked ourselves, ‘Do we want to be the guys who have that same product, or do we want to be differentiated by our product?’ People aren’t going to come to us only because we have Gulfstreams—we still have to provide good service—but it was a market niche that no one else was holding at the time.”
Flexjet’s relationship with Gulfstream is not exclusive. The company is purchasing a yet-to-be-determined number of new aircraft from Embraer and Bombardier, because as Ricci explained, those planes suit the needs of Flexjet customers. But the new Gulfstreams—which will include at least 10 G450s, and a combined total of 12 G650s and G500s—will significantly grow the company’s fleet of long-range aircraft. Before taking delivery of the two G450s, Flexjet had only 11 aircraft capable of transatlantic flights. The first G650 is expected to join the company’s fleet early next year. That aircraft has a cruising speed of 561 mph and a range of 8,055 miles.
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