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Planform showing a Flexjet airline Bombardier ...

Planform showing a Flexjet airline Bombardier Learjet 40 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flexjet, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bombardier, is considered the number 2 fractional aircraft program in North America. The number 2 ranking is based on fleet size (69 aircraft) and average age of the fleet. Currently, Flexjet has the overall youngest fleet but four less aircraft than the closest competitor (considered the number 3 program) based on fleet size.

The Flexjet fleet, unlike most of the other programs, consists solely of Bombardier and Learjet (a wholly owned subsidiary of Bombardier) products. They have aircraft that will fit almost any business or pleasure flyer’s needs, including the Learjet 40 and 40XR (light), Learjet 45XR (super light), Learjet 60 and 60XR (midsize), Challenger 300 (super midsize) and Challenger 604 and 605 (large). Flexjet will soon be adding the Learjet 70 (light) and Learjet 85 (midsize). These new aircraft will be the latest in design technology and performance in the Learjet stable of offerings. While some competitors have in the past criticized Flexjet for only using Bombardier products, those same competitors are now buying Bombardier products for their own fleets.

Flexjet offers three main products and variants of those products: a jet (debit) card, a lease program and the traditional ownership program. Each of these options has its own pros and cons.

The jet (debit) card is just that: a debit card with a minimum initial deposit of $100,000, which becomes non-refundable only if the cardholder does not cancel it within 14 days of their first flight; any subsequent deposit is refundable. The jet (debit) card guarantees access to the whole Flexjet fleet (except for the Challenger 604 and 605 aircraft) at preset base hourly rates plus a variable fuel adjustment and federal excise tax, and it gives you the option to fly as little or as much as you need. The jet (debit) card offers the most flexibility but the highest costs.

The lease program is less expensive than the jet (debit) card but is locked into a specific aircraft type, a set number of hours per year, a monthly lease and management fee, a preset hourly charge (plus variable fuel adjustment and federal excise tax), and access to the rest of the fleet is on an “as available” basis at a preset interchange rate. The lease (which Flexjet calls the “walk away lease”) gives the lessee the option to terminate at any time with 90 days advance notice.

The least expensive option offered by Flexjet is the traditional ownership model; however, since it is an ownership arrangement, the residual value of the asset (aircraft share) at the end of the term will impact what your true cost per hour to fly will be. The fractional ownership option carries a 5 year term with an early out option – typically after 30 months – with a termination fee. The ownership option requires purchase of the share and – except for a monthly lease fee – locks into the same conditions as the lease program, such as a specific aircraft type, a set number of hours per year, and the same “as available” access to the rest of the fleet.