White agrees, noting the acquisition will enable up to a $5.2 billion investment in its operations – not only for fleet replacement but growth. While Bombardier was a strong owner, its core focus is manufacturing, not operations. With Directional, Flexjet gets a parent that is deeply involved in business aircraft operations, White adds. “It’s a great opportunity to take Flexjet to the next level.”
Directional initially plans to maintain the Flexjet brand alongside Flight Options and Sentient. When Directional first acquired Sentient, questions arose whether it would be folded into and augment Flight Options’ business. But Directional has maintained them as independent brands. White sees that trend continuing with Flexjet. The Flexjet team will remain intact. But she does not rule out potential collaborations. “There will always be opportunities for us to work together,” she says.
Ricci says Flexjet is “an extremely well-run, profitable business known for its exceptional focus on owner experience and operational excellence and is a perfect complement to our current portfolio.” He adds that the company will remain focused on Bombardier’s products, saying it complements its other brands.
Directional maintains that the combination of the Flexjet, Flight Options and Sentient Jet brands will provide a range of choices. Flexjet will remain the “premium brand” with the young fleet, while Flight Options will be the “value brand,” primarily offering shares in used aircraft, along with a fleet of Embraer Phenoms and Citation Xs.
“Today’s corporate aircraft traveler is reviewing many different travel options, each unique to certain travel requirements,” Ricci says. “It has been our intent to find the best brand in each segment which can complement the product offerings of the other companies.”
The businesses combined account for more than $1.1 billion in revenues, operating more than 150 aircraft in excess of 200,000 flight hours per year serving more than 6,000 customers. Directional will have a dominant presence in the fractional market that follows only NetJets.
It also has a stronger presence with the recent demise of Avantair, which operated a fleet of more than 50 Piaggio Avantis, and last year’s decision by CitationAir to exit the fractional business. Those departures have benefited both the larger fractionals, as well as the smaller up-and-coming operations. Flexjet tailored step-up products designed just for Avantair and CitationAir customers, and Flight Options competed head-on in some of the segments.
For Directional though, the businesses are just one facet of the Cleveland-based investment firm’s stake in the business aviation market. Its portfolio also includes Nextant Aerospace, Constant Aviation, Everest Fuel Management, Sojourn Aviation, Spinnaker Air and API.
But Directional, which already has one of the largest portfolios in the market, is not through, saying: “With its commitment to investing in private aviation, Directional will continue to seek out additional businesses that can join its continually expanding portfolio.”