Flexjet is adding 22 more mid- and super midsized private jets to its global fractional fleet by the end of the year. Together with large-cabin aircraft on order, this will bring the fleet to 270 jets by year-end 2023. The increasing capacity is also allowing Flexjet to restart jet card sales.
Praetor 600 & Challenger 3500 Additions
Two new aircraft types are being added to the North American fleet - the super midsize Praetor 600 and the Challenger 3500.
Since 2020, the Praetor 600 has been the backbone of Flexjet’s fast-growing European fleet, receiving plaudits since Flexjet introduced it as the fleet launch customer for the aircraft. It joins the Praetor 500, already a staple in the Flexjet fleet, and is available for fractional purchase today.
The Praetor 600 can perform flights of up to 7 hours 45 minutes or over 4,000 nm (7,441 km) and can carry up to 9 passengers. It also has a cabin altitude of just 5,800 feet while cruising at 45,000 feet. This pressure level, combined with higher (comfortable) humidity levels, means travelers will feel less fatigued and more active during the flight and better refreshed on arrival.
The Challenger 3500 continues a tradition of Bombardier super midsized aircraft at Flexjet, that includes the Challenger 300 and Challenger 350. The 3500, the newest generation of Challenger aircraft, has a 3,200 nm (5,926 km) range, giving it nonstop coast-to-coast flight capabilities. It also has a maximum operating altitude of 41,000 feet (12,496 m).
With the ability to carry up to nine passengers, the Challenger 3500 has a redesigned interior with exclusive touches including the patented Nuage seat, which offers a zero-gravity position that was previously available only on Bombardier’s large-cabin Global aircraft. It also has advanced technologies such as the first voice-controlled cabin, wireless chargers in the cabin and the only 24-inch, 4K displays in its class. In addition, the Challenger 3500 has a cabin altitude of 4,850 feet, leaving passengers feeling refreshed when they step off the aircraft.
By the end of 2023 the Flexjet mid and supermid fleet will have grown to 148 aircraft, meaning this portion of the fleet will have almost doubled since 2018.
“Together with the existing Embraer Praetor 500 and Challenger 350 aircraft flying in our fleet, the addition of the Praetor 600 and the Challenger 3500 has given Flexjet the industry’s leading offering of mid- and super midsized aircraft,” said Flexjet Executive Vice President of Sales D.J. Hanlon.
Fractional owners of the aircraft in Flexjet’s mid- and super midsized fleet will benefit from the Red Label by Flexjet program which features pilots assigned to a specific aircraft, the world’s most modern fleet, the LXi custom cabin interiors and world-class experiences.
Along with all the aircraft additions, Flexjet has been busy hiring. It ended 2022 having hired 350 additional pilots, and it plans to hire 388 additional flight crew members and 338 aircraft maintenance technicians in 2023. In total, Flexjet is expected to hire an additional 1,400 employees.
While the high covid driven demand had stretched out the time it was taking for new fractional customers to get into their aircraft, there is now some balance coming back into the market. “We are adding aircraft according to needs, it is all very thoughtful,” said DJ Hanlan. For Flexjet aircraft, this means todays new customers can expect to have their aircraft in 2023 – varying from fall to winter depending on the aircraft model.
DJ Hanlan noted that while covid “exposed a new group to private aviation”, there is demand now as “people are getting back out and meeting customers” while the “ability to work remote is still there.”
In addition to the 270 jets, Flexjet also has a total of 23 helicopters, with 12 in the USA and 11 in Europe. Flexjet’s helicopter division sells fractional, lease, and on-demand charter access, and fractional jet owners can interchange into the helicopters, meaning they can use some of their fractional ownership time on the helicopter fleet.
Restarted Jet Card Sales
Flexjet had paused jet card sales during the record demand of the covid pandemic, in order to preserve service levels, but it has now restarted sales. “We now have capacity to add some more” DJ Hanlon told SherpaReport.
The restarted 25-hour jet card program is still restricted to time on just two aircraft, the Phenom 300 light jet and the Challenger 300 mid-size. The call out time is five days of advance notice with no access on peak days.
Flexjet views the cards as more of a demonstration for their fractional service, and as such customers can only buy one card in 12 months, and the company is only doing a set number of cards per month. DJ Hanlon explained that this very deliberate strategy is designed to keep the total card hours low as a total of overall fleet hours, which means Flexjet are able to forecast demand and be more thoughtful about their service provision.