Flexjet Europe
Flexjet Europe currently has 15 aircraft in its fleet, mostly Nextant 400XTis and a few Embraer Legacy 600s. It had planned to announce expansion plans in late May but has postponed that until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Flexjet Europe)

Flexjet Postpones European Plans, Citing COVID-19

Flexjet had planned to announce a “significant expansion” in Europe at the now-canceled European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Geneva, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has postponed its proclamation until next spring, CEO Mike Silvestro said recently. Flexjet's European affiliate, which holds an air operator certificate via U.K.-based subsidiary Flairjet, also has a controlling interest in aircraft charter and management firm Sirio at Milan Linate Airport. It currently has 15 aircraft, mostly Nextant 400XTis and a few Embraer Legacy 600s.

Kenn Ricci, Flexjet’s chairman and principal at parent company Directional Aviation, told BJT that Flexjet has deferred an unspecified number of new aircraft deliveries due to a delay in the European expansion plans. Silvestro, speaking at a Jefferies Equity Research webinar, said that Flexjet eventually will deploy the Embraer Praetor 600 in Europe, but Ricci would not confirm whether that model accounts for the delivery deferrals.

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Asked why Flexjet would shelve such plans when industry watchers believe that business aviation could see an influx of new customers post-COVID, Ricci cited uncertainty over future market dynamics given the unpredictable nature of the virus. “We were unsure of the impact of COVID in April when we pulled the plug on the Flexjet Europe expansion," he explained. "We didn’t have the foresight at the time to think there would be a significant positive outcome of the virus for business aviation. So, in hindsight, we might have made a different decision, but since it involved new aircraft deliveries, we couldn’t take the risk.”

Flexjet Europe currently operates more as an ad-hoc aircraft charter firm, as opposed to the aircraft fractional-share business that parent company Flexjet provides in the U.S. However, the company does plan to eventually offer fractional ownership in Europe.