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September 5, 2013
By Alton K. Marsh
Directional Aviation Capital, an investor group, has acquired the assets of the luxury fractional jet provider Flexjet from Bombardier for a reported $185 million, and funded a huge Flexjet order for more Bombardier business jets at the same time. The purchase will be finalized by the end of 2013.
Directional Aviation Capital is a private investment firm headquartered in Richmond Heights, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and focused solely on business aviation. It now has nine companies under its “projects” list, including Sentient Jet, an on-call charter jet operator, and Flight Options, a less expensive value-based jet fractional ownership company. Also listed as a project company on the Directional Aviation Capital site is Nextant Aerospace which has a head start on Beechcraft in sales of remodeled Hawker 400 aircraft with its Nextant 400XTi jet.
Beechcraft calls its renewed model of the same aircraft the Hawker 400XPR. Directional Aviation Capital is headed by Kenn Ricci who founded Corporate Wings and Cleveland-based Flight Options, and is in management for Nextant Aerospace.
The order includes a firm order for 85 Bombardier jets for $1.8 billion, with deliveries set to begin in mid-2014 and ending in 2018. Deliveries will begin with the Learjet 75 and be joined by the Learjet 85 at the end of the year, according to Deanna White, president of Flexjet. She will continue as president. The initial firm order includes 20 Learjet 75s that first appeared at a trade show in May, 30 composite Learjet 85s that has initial deliveries to all customers delayed to late 2014, 20 Challenger 350s that will reach customers in 2014, and 10 Challenger 650s that first began deliveries to customers in 2011. There are options for 160 additional aircraft that could bring the total order to $5.2 billion if exercised.
"At the high-net-worth individual level you’re seeing more confidence in the economy," said White. "We do have corporations that are looking at taking the assets [aircraft] off balance sheets and use multiple providers."
Flexjet is reporting a 96 percent increase of new fractional and jet card sales in January to June 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. In the first six months of this year, sales of new fractional shares increased 112 percent, while new jet card sales grew 68 percent. Flexjet is hiring pilots and has 700 applications from outside the company.
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