Xojet is on a tear. Launched in January 2006 with a small staff and a few airplanes, the company now employs more than 350 people and operates 47 super-midsize business jets out of Brisbane, Calif. It credits its growth largely to deploying its fleet unconventionally to maximize efficiency and to its pricing, which is highly competitive and also transparent compared with that of many rival outfits. Even its marketing efforts depart from traditional industry practices.
More than a decade ago, I was standing on a ramp at a California airport with an investment banker and his Dassault Falcon 900. Between incessant taps on his Blackberry, he was discussing the airplane and how he used it.
If I owned a business jet, my worst nightmare would go something like this: my airplane is involved in an accident and I get sued for zillions of dollars in damages. I call an aviation attorney and she says the limited liability company (LLC) I formed solely to own and operate my aircraft (known as a “flight department company”) won’t limit liability after all because it was operating the jet illegally. Then I call my insurance broker and he says my insurer is denying coverage because the damage occurred on a flight that was operated illegally.
When he launched his FUBU clothing line in 1992, Daymond John was a 23-year-old waiter and taxi driver with no college education, no business training, no manufacturing operation, no contracts with retailers and no money to speak of.
I sit in the fighting chair aboard the 33-foot charter sport-fishing boat Reel Addiction, mesmerized by the churning wash of a stream of white bubbles into the clear, sapphire-blue South Pacific Ocean. Behind and above me on the bridge, at the helm, is skipper Steve Campbell, a 60-year-old tanned and sinewy ex-New Zealander.
When it comes to outright aircraft ownership, you basically have two choices: hire a management company to handle operations and maintenance or set up your own corporate flight department. Done right, either option will afford you convenience and safety. What it really comes down to is cost versus control.
“When you get into the larger aircraft it becomes like a hotel, with dozens of staff supporting the plane based in a galley area down below. You have very comprehensive cooking facilities, and on larger aircraft we have looked at theatres, with spiral staircases and a Steinway grand piano. The limitations for what you can put inside a plane are pretty much the limits of physics, and even money cannot always overcome that. Even so, people are still always trying to push [the limits]. ”