JET CARD INSIDER – Why Flexjet has just two private jet card programs

By Doug Gollan, August 24, 2017

Flexjet jet cards start at $162,000 for 25 hours on an Embraer Phenom 300 and $249,000 for a Challenger 300

So you’ve been reading about the Flexjet Red Label LXi fleet with its customized luxury interiors, including the Gulfstream G650 and 500, the Bombardier Global Express, Challenger 350 and Embraer Legacy 450. While NetJets offers a wide range of jet cards across its fleet of fractional aircraft, we wondered why Flexjet would only offer the Embraer Phenom 300 and Bombardier Challenger 300 for its two jet cards.

Well, earlier this week Private Jet Card Comparisons was in Cleveland to spend a day at Flexjet’s headquarters at Cuyahoga County Airport. With the increasing number of jet card sellers in the market and sister company Sentient Jet telling us they are adding a jet card with a WiFi guarantee, naturally, we were expecting some new cards from Flexjet.

Turns out we were wrong. Look for Flexjet to continue with its entry in Light Jets (Phenom 300) and Super-Mid (Challenger 300), but that’s it. It turns out Flexjet’s jet card program is mainly to service Flexjet’s fractional owners who need to buy a card for a spouse or family members. Corporate customers also buy jet cards for senior executives and they are used for demo flights. Flexjet has a separate program that enables fractional owners to trade hours. In selling fractional shares, it believes not offering cards across the fleet gives it a sales edge against NetJets. With Sentient Jet part of the same company, overall there are plenty of jet cards being sold, just not via Flexjet.

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“Our card business is about 10% of total hours under management, but if you looked at the hours, it’s pretty significant,” says Matt Doyle, vice president of sales for Flexjet. “The idea was to maintain the integrity of a closed fleet program. We want (our jet card customers) to experience the same as our fractional owners…Some (jet card) programs are to get from A to B safely at the lowest price. (Our program is) a high-end card program.”

That said, Flexjet’s limited jet card entries are an important solution if you prefer flying on a fractional or owned fleet or specific aircraft type as there are limited options, mainly NetJets, Nicholas Air, XOJET’s Super-Mid program, Wheels Up with its King Air 350i and Citation XL/XLS fleet and JetSuite with the Embraer Phenom 100 and Citation CJ3. Magellan Jets, although a broker program, does offer specific aircraft type guarantees.

How much does the Flexjet jet card cost?

Flexjet’s Phenom 300 card is $162,000 while the Challenger 300 is $249,000 for 25 hours, including Federal Excise Tax (FET). Jet card holders have access to Flexjet’s new app which tracks your balance, provides you photos of your pilots, directions to the FBO and enables you to schedule flights. You also get the same owner services team that serves fractional owners.

The primary service area is pretty standard. It is the Continental United States; the Bahamas; Northern Mexico north of the 23rd Parallel plus Cabo San Lucas; any other point up to 225 statute miles outside the contiguous United States. Secondary Service Area: Bermuda; the Greater, Lesser and Netherlands Antilles; Central America; the balance of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada (except where access is restricted) that is not included within the Primary Service Area.

Some of the negatives for the Flexjet jet card program include that hours expire after 24 months, your money is non-refundable, there is no roundtrip discount, there is a CPI escalator of at least 3.75% after 12 months and a 40% peak and premium day surcharge on the Challenger 300. There are only 10 peak days, but an additional 30 premium days. On the plus side of the ledger is the Phenom 300 and Challenger 300 are both very popular aircraft, Flexjet has a relatively young fleet, plus cancellation for both peak and non-peak days is just four hours. In other words, the Flexjet program is excellent if you know your travel plans are prone to cancellation. Non-Peak and Premium reservations lead time is 24 hours and for peak days it is 48 hours, better than some programs that range up to seven days. Surcharges of 10% for the Phenom 300 and 40% for Challenger 300 apply to the 40 total peak and premium days. There is also $300 million in insurance.

Comparing Challenger 300 prices on non-peak, non-premium travel days, Magellan Jets quotes $10,066 per hour plus 7.5% FET for 25 hours, so $10,821 per hour, excluding other fees. You would be looking at $8,500 per hour with XOJET, inclusive 7.5% FET, based on $200,000 deposit and excluding its new initiation and monthly fees, which would tack on $500 to $1,000 per hour, so think $9,000 to $9,500. Flexjet is priced at $9,267 per hour for the Challenger 300.

It would have been great to see Flexjet jet cards offered on the Red Label fleet, however, Doyle says the only way to access Red Label will continue to be fractional ownership or leasing. In the meantime, if you are particular to the Phenom 300 or Challenger 300, Flexjet is one of your core options.

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