At the same time though, both Directional, Flight Options and Flexjet executives are cognizant of the fine lines of operating two entities that at least in a broad sense are competitors. Executives are saying having both operations will provide a range of choices. Flexjet will remain the “premium brand,” maintaining a fleet of Bombardier aircraft that are among the youngest in the industry.
Flight Options, meanwhile, will be the “value brand,” primarily offering shares in the Nextant remanufactured 400XTs, along with a fleet of Embraer Phenoms and Citation Xs, White says.
Ricci acknowledged the potential overlap between Flexjet’s Learjet 75 and Flight Options’ Phenom 300. But taking that into account, the executives custom designed the Learjet 75 to differentiate between the two products. The Flexjet Learjet 75s will be an “lxi” model that will be designed with two fewer seats (four), more legroom, a cabin door, ottomans and a number of high-end amenities that cater to a higher-end customer. Ricci says the company is comfortable with downsizing seating capability in the Learjets since the smaller planes average 2.3 passengers. “We were more interested in legroom,” he says. Ricci says the company will display the new interior at the National Business Aviation Association Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition next month.
He also notes that neither operation is in a distressed situation. Both are operating well. “Time is on our side to take a thoughtful look at the two products.” The overarching plan, though, is “to maintain the Flight Options and Flexjet storefronts.”
White says she does not rule out collaboration between the two companies where it makes sense. “There will always be opportunities for us to work together,” she says. But she adds that the companies will work to rationalize their differentiation.
As for Directional, Flexjet is its single largest acquisition, Ricci says, but likely will not be its last. The focus to date has primarily been on the U.S. market, but “we can’t ignore the global market.” He hints that may be the next target of opportunity, particularly at a time when things are being sold at bottom-level prices.
Directional already has one of the largest independent business aviation portfolios in the market, and says, “With its commitment to investing in private aviation, Directional will continue to seek out additional businesses that can join its continually expanding portfolio.”