Fleet Building Rapidly For Flexjet Europe After Slow Start
Gulfstream G650s and Embraer Praetor 600s are in heavy demand by the fractional company.
FlexJet Europe has maintained a robust pace over the past year despite the pandemic, building its fleet of super-midsize and large-cabin business jets. It was hoped that Flexjet and parent company Directional Aviation would take delivery of their first Embraer Praetor 600 in the first quarter of 2020, however the pandemic prevented the company from introducing the super-midsize twinjet to existing and potential shareholders.
Rich Report spoke with Flexjet Europe managing director Marine Eugene about fractional orders. “It’s been a journey that has had to see us pivot [and] adapt to circumstances that were really unusual, but we’ve seen some really good success with the aircraft.”
Six Praetor 600s have been delivered to the London-based company in the past year, and two more are on their way before the end of the year. Over the same period, the company has also acquired two Gulfstream G650 ultra-long-range aircraft. In contrast to its U.S. counterpart, Flexjet Europe will not take any of the 64 Embraer Phenom 300Es and Praetor 500/600s the U.S. company ordered in 2019.
In Eugene's opinion, that's because half of the European charter market is light jets, and the competition is based on price. Economically, super-midsize and large-cabin business jets are "where we can really earn our stripes in Europe," she said. The fact that we don't compete at the bottom of the market distinguishes us as a premium company."
Despite considering adding the Bombardier Learjet 75 as a light jet service, Eugene said Flexjet Europe decided to stay with larger aircraft.
Flexjet Europe recently opened a control center at Farnborough Airport in the UK, in addition to adding aircraft to its fleet. In addition to being a very premium airport for private aviation, Flexjet Europe has half of its customers in the UK.
Eugene knows that even though private aviation demand remains robust, it can change quickly. In her experience, she explained, “this is a cycle.”. “As an industry, we know there are highs and lows.” “What makes us unique is that we are managing our growth in a sustainable manner. Mr. [Kenn] Ricci [principal of Directional Aviation] knows how to protect the balance sheet of the business in case there was a U-turn.”
In the short term, it appears that demand will remain at its current level. According to her, the market is still quite high.