FXAIR is the new premium ad hoc charter brand from Directional Aviation and will replace PrivateFly in the U.S.
17 Flexjet Bombardier Challenger 300s and Global Express XRSs will provide the backbone for the new private aviation provider
FXAIR is the new private aviation brand from OneSky Flight, LLC. The new on-demand charter broker promises a premium experience and perks not generally associated with ad hoc private jet rentals.
The foundation for its inventory will be 12 Flexjet Challenger 300s and five Global Express XRSs coming off fractional ownership. The airplanes will be operated by Flexjet with Flexjet pilots. Plans call for the Challenger fleet to more than double in the next 24 months. Executives tell Private Jet Card Comparisons they hope to grow the FXAIR platform to $400 million in sales.
OneSky Flight is part of Kenn Ricci’s Direction Aviation group. Companies include manufacturer Nextant Aviation, MRO services provider Constant Aviation, and management company Corporate Wings. FXAIR will operate alongside Flexjet, Sentient Jet, and PrivateFly, the U.K.-based international on-demand broker acquired in 2018.
Flexjet, Sentient Jet, PrivateFly and FXAIR
In terms of differentiation, PrivateFly is described in press materials as a global on-demand brokerage. FXAIR will focus on premium charter on-demand. Sentient Jet offers fixed-rate, guaranteed availability jet cards. Flexjet sells fractional ownership and leases on its fleet of Red Label aircraft. It also offers jet cards on its Embraer Phenom 300s and Bombardier Challenger 300s.
“We pride ourselves on anticipating the needs of flyers and moving swiftly to present them with ideal options once they are ready to act,” said Ricci in announcing the new brand.
He added, “Increasingly, we are finding that individuals and businesses appreciate the on-demand charter model for the flexibility it affords them, but they desire access to a more consistent network of premium aircraft. With the addition of FXAIR to our family of flight providers and operators, we meet that need and can say that, no matter how people prefer to fly, we have a solution for them.”
“Launching a premium charter company in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic really demonstrates the strength of the Directional Aviation family of brands, as well as our leadership’s belief that the time to act is right now,” said Andrew Collins, CEO of FXAIR, who also oversees Sentient Jet and PrivateFly.
Moving up the launch
Collins noted, “Originally, the plan was to introduce FXAIR in the fourth quarter of this year. When the pandemic began, we talked with our clients, providers, and partners, and it became clear that there was a pressing need for us to accelerate our launch. That’s why we’re making this announcement now. We are ready to serve clients throughout this unique summer, the holiday season and beyond.”
Gregg Slow, a veteran of NetJets and XOJET, becomes president of FXAIR. He joined Directional last year to helm the U.S. side of PrivateFly. As part of the launch, PrivateFly’s U.S. team is moving to FXAIR.
Collins said that PrivateFly will now focus on international markets for Directional. The charter broker will leverage its strength in the U.K. and Europe and developing new markets, such as Russia.
Best private jet at the best price
Slow says in addition to the Flexjet aircraft, FXAIR is tapping a network of safety-and-quality vetted third party operators. Together, FXAIR customers can access over 1,200 aircraft as part of its open fleet.
“Best plane at the best price, not the cheapest plane at the cheapest price,” says Slow.
Instead of competing for customers looking for the absolute lowest rate, FXAIR will distinguish itself by becoming a trusted advisor, he says. Its goal is to take the friction out of the on-demand charter market with technology playing a key role. Key pillars will be safety standards, ownership stability, and consistency of product.
Aviator On-Demand Charter Program
Its Aviator program will not have any joining or membership fees and requires an initial deposit of $100,000. Members need to keep $25,000 on the account. Funds never expire. Unused funds are refundable at any time.
In addition top-shelf aircraft, inclusions will feature free WiFi within the U.S., deicing on Flexjet FX tails, catering appropriate to the time of day, and penalty-free cancelation with as little as 24 hours notice.
FXAIR will use market-driven dynamic pricing. However, it will also offer Aviator members a coast-to-coast capped rate of $31,900. The pricing is valid anywhere along the east coast from Maine to Florida to or from anywhere along the Pacific Coast from Washington to California.
The FXAIR, nee PrivateFly team, led by Slow, has been beating pre-COVID-19 sales budgets, according to Collins. The new platform could grow to as much as $400 million in sales “in the next couple of years,” he says. Estimated revenues at Sentient are around $300 million.
With PrivateFly discontinuing its U.S. presence, it’s not quite clear whether the FXAIR launch is pure addition or addition by subtraction. FXAIR is targeting fliers whose typical trips are over two hours and looking for quality solutions. Slow says its approach may not be a fit for all private aviation users.
NetJets, Vista Global, Wheels Up and Directional battle it out
The launch of FXAIR is just the latest of many moves by the industry’s biggest players. Last year, XO, now owned by Vista Global Holdings, tried to address the inconsistency of on-demand charters by separating aircraft into three quality tiers. It also announced plans to take the U.S.-based XO brand to Europe and around the world.
Since Directional bought PrivateFly in September 2018, Wheels Up acquired Delta Private Jets, TMC Jets, and Gama Aviation Signature, making it the largest Part 135 operator. Last year, Vista Holdings bought JetSmarter, before merging it into XO.
NetJets, which eschewed acquisitions since buying Marquis Jet Partners in 2010, said yesterday it will add 60 new private jets through 2021. It also rescinded plans to retire some of its Europe fleet. It credited strong demand for private travel for the reversal of plans.
For FXAIR, access to the Flexjet fleet comes as the fractional operator moves to Gulfstream’s G650 and G700 and Embraer’s Praetor 500 and 600. Last year, it placed billion-dollar orders with both OEMs.