Canadian fractional company AirSprint has announced plans to expand its fleet with a recent order for up to 12 Embraer Legacy 450 aircraft. The $198 million deal will include two definite deliveries in late 2016, with the option for 10 additional deliveries in 2017 and beyond. AirSprint and Embraer announced the agreement at the recent Canadian Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (CBAA) in Calgary, which is also AirSprint's base of operations.

The Legacy 450 joins the existing AirSprint fleet, which currently consists only of Cessna aircraft, offering a maximum range of 2,130 miles. With a maximum range of 3,225 miles, the Legacy 450 is a substantial addition to the company's fleet selection. It will allow clients to fly from Vancouver to Hawaii non-stop. It is also 10% faster than any of the other planes in the fleet.
Embraer President and CEO, Marco Tulio Pellegrini, said at the CBAA that he looks forward to a relationship with AirSprint: "AirSprint customers will be the first in the country to benefit from the true innovations that the Legacy 450 brings in terms of comfort, performance, efficiency, and availability."

Legacy 450

Meanwhile, AirSprint President and COO, James Elian, said that the addition of the Legacy 450 will "enhance (owners') experience by providing faster, non-stop access to further away destinations, all with a level of comfort and luxury not previously available." He notes that the decision to utilize the Legacy 450 reflects the needs of the Canadian fractional market: "We have large customer bases in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. The Legacy provides the ability to fly cross-country between these markets without stopping and at faster speeds."

Interestingly, Elian noted that the economic downtown has led to a decline in private jet travel in much of Canada. So why increase the fleet? As it happens, the same economic downturn means that many people who once had their own private jets are now turning to fractional ownership as a more economically viable alternative. Therefore, Elian is seeing a growth market and an increased demand for a mid-size business jet, such as the Legacy 450.

For many, it makes more sense to buy part-ownership in the AirSprint fleet and pay the additional annual and hourly fees, and to still have access to flying whenever they want, than it does to bear the costs of full ownership. AirSprint shares start at $600,000 whereas the cost of buying a Legacy 450 outright is approximately $17 million. Elian notes that the operations and maintenance costs are where outright-turned-fractional owners see a significant reduction in expenditure. Many people were able to buy a pre-owned private plane at a heavily reduced price in the 2008 economic downtown. However, they were ill-prepared for the ongoing costs of ownership. It is many of these owners that AirSprint hopes to attract. Elian says that buying into a fractional aircraft through AirSprint will allow these former owners to get "more plane for less buck."

AirSprint was founded in 2000. The company's current fleet of 13 aircraft includes 5 Citation XLS which will be retired within the next year. The XLS will be replaced by the Legacy.