One week after plucking about PrivateFly, Flexjet chairman Kenn Ricci held a party to congratulate Michael Silvestro on his 10-year anniversary and what he said was the company’s decade of success.
“Mike Silvestro became Chief Executive Officer just before the financial crisis of 2008. He ‘maintained an even strain,’ as aviators say, managing the company through the industry’s most difficult period and, eventually, building Flexjet into a provider that is challenging the largest player in the industry on every front. I’m proud of Mike, and the commitment he brings every day to making Flexjet the world’s premier private jet company,” said Ricci in a press release received by Private Jet Card Comparisons.
Silvestro has known Ricci for more than 40 years since they were roommates at Notre Dame and has served as CEO at two companies owned by Ricci, Flexjet and Flight Options. Silvestro added, “I’m honored to work beside my fellow associates. We are a tenured leadership group – with many serving this organization for 20-plus years. They represent the best of the best, men and women dedicated to flying travelers around the world while meeting the highest standards of safety, security, comfort and convenience. Our people have made the past 10 years the most professionally fulfilling of my life, and I look forward to many more years working with them.”
2008: An unprecedented time – Silvestro was named CEO of Flight Options upon its being re-acquired by Ricci’s Directional Aviation. On top of needing to re-build an enterprise that was neglected by previous ownership, the bottom fell out during the financial crisis, with flight activity dropping 35% in just a few months, followed by a period of contraction for the private aviation industry.
Forced to innovate, Silvestro and his team managed through two very conflicting initiatives – scale back the business and do more with less. At the same time, Silvestro understood how important it was to continue to provide customers with exceptional levels of service.
Silvestro managed these opposing initiatives with one of the core fundamentals of the company: Taking a long-term approach to relationships. A large majority of the customers who stayed with the company during the depths of the global financial crisis are still flying with it today under the Flexjet brand, 10 years later.
2009-2012: Persistence and innovation – Silvestro not only helped keep Flight Options alive during the recession of 2008-09, but, positioned it to return to a state of growth. By the first quarter of 2011, Flight Options saw a 467% increase in fractional jet sales and a 46% increase in jet card sales during that year’s first quarter, compared to the same period in the previous year. This was part of four consecutive years of improved financial results since Silvestro became Flight Options’ CEO. At the close of 2012, Flight Options saw sales increase 30% year over year, with a 70% increase in sales to owners who left a competing brand.
During this period, Flight Options became the launch customer for the Embraer Phenom 300 light jet as well as the Nextant 400XT, the world’s first remanufactured business jet. Both aircraft were perfect for this period of guarded capital deployment and economic recovery, as they were the most capable in their class with the industry’s lowest acquisition and operating costs.
2013–2018: Redefining standards and raising bars – By 2013, Silvestro had Flight Options on a track of stability and growth that its owner, Ricci’s Directional Aviation, acquired fractional pioneer Flexjet from Bombardier, eventually merging it with Flight Options. Ricci again turned to Silvestro and making him CEO of the new combined enterprise that would move forward under the Flexjet banner. Since then, Silvestro has overseen the rebranding of Flexjet with a focus on owners, invested billions in new aircraft with an emphasis on large-cabin models – turning Flexjet into a truly global operator – and launched premium offering Red Label with features never before seen in the fractional private jet industry such as dedicated crews and the LXi Cabin Collection of artisan aircraft interiors. Last year it took delivery of its first long-range Gulfstream G650.
“Mike Silvestro assumed the leadership of Flexjet, a company with a rich heritage of excellence, and has taken it to even higher levels of achievement,” said Ricci. “Even as we honor Mike for a decade of unprecedented accomplishments as CEO, he always has his focus on the future – a future in which I have no doubt that he will continue to work tirelessly to build the world’s premier private jet travel organization.”