December 05, 2013
Directional Aviation Capital completed its acquisition of Dallas-based fractional ownership provider Flexjet from Bombardier for about $195 million and an agreement to buy up to $5.6 billion in Bombardier business jets.
The deal closed a little less than three months after the companies announced plans for Bombardier to sell its homegrown fractional ownership business.
The final purchase price was a little higher than the originally announced $185 million, an adjustment that Bombardier attributes in part to an assumption of an estimated $70 million in customer advances by Directional Aviation Capital. The actual purchase was made by a company set up by Directional – Flexjet LLC.
Along with the purchase, Directional confirmed its firm order for 115 Bombardier aircraft – 25 Learjet 75, 60 Learjet 85, 20 Challenger 350 and 10 Challenger 605 jets. The firm order, which was increased last month to include 30 more Learjet 85s, is valued at $2.4 billion. The order also includes options for up to 265 more aircraft, pushing the total value to $5.6 billion.
With the closing, Flexjet now joins the growing Directional Aviation Capital portfolio of business aviation businesses, including onetime rival Flight Options, along with Sentient Jet Cards and Sentient Jet Charter.
As part of the sale, Flexjet partner Jet Solutions stakeholders, including President Dennis Keith, are buying the remaining portion of that company. Jet Solutions, which was 49% owned by Bombardier and 51% owned by U.S. stakeholders, provided Part 135 services for Flexjex. The strategic relationship, at least in the near term, is expected to continue.
Initial plans call for Flexjet to maintain its current leadership, operations and branding independent of Cleveland-based Flight Options. The two fractional ownership providers now face the prospect of carefully positioning themselves in the market, with Flexjet remaining the premium, high-end brand, and Flight Options emphasizing its value proposition. Directional Principal Kenn Ricci maintains that the two operations serve different clientele with different operational needs.
But the acquisition gives Directional a strong footing in the fractional ownership market, well positioned to compete against fractional ownership giant NetJets. Flexjet and Flight Options were the second and third largest providers behind NetJets.
For Flexjet, which has begun to see a steady return to growth in its fractional business over the past year, the sale provides an opportunity to refresh and grow its fleet. Flexjet had plans to slowly add the new Learjets, but Directional is providing the necessary capital to accelerate that effort.