A Triangle Business Journal profile of FlyExclusive shows the jet card and charter operator used the CARES Act’s PPP to set the table for its recovery
According to a report in the Triangle Business Journal, close to 300 jobs at Kinston, North Carolina-based FlyExclusive and related companies were saved by the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program. That totals include 75 newly hired positions.
The business website reports CARES Act loans flowed to five related companies. They included $4.2 million for Exclusive Jets, $204,300 for Sky Night, another operator it acquired, $134,600 to LGM Enterprises, $31,400 for Kinston Jet Center LLC, and $13,300 under Carolina Air Center.
How PPP helped FlyExclusive
Jim Segrave, principal for the companies, told Triangle Business Journal, “In April, we had about 47 planes parked on the ramp, and we were losing about $200,000 a day…It was very critical back then.” Argus and WingX reported flight volume for private jets was at 20% of normal at its nadir this spring. Currently, he says FlyExclusive is tracking at 80% of pre-COVID levels.
The CARES Act support has drawn criticism from both outside the industry and within. However, Segrave tells Private Jet Card Comparisons, “While our customers are often high net worth individuals or large businesses, our pilots, mechanics, line technicians, dispatchers, accounting and support staff are all hard-working Americans. We are thankful and proud to have been able to maintain hundreds and hundreds of jobs with the support of the PPP program.”
Does business aviation need more PPP support?
Segrave says he hopes the industry is in line to receive more aid. “Most of the private aviation industry is still losing money while running at around 80% of pre-COVID levels, and to maintain these jobs for the next six months, we absolutely need additional government support.”
NetJets, the largest operator of private jets, did not seek government assistance. It has been critical of companies that have used the funds to purchase other companies and for expansion.
Patrick Gallagher, president of the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, recently told us, “With the rising tide apparently lifting all ships in our industry, I’m hopeful as a taxpayer that some of those CARES Act funds get paid back. We see our competitors touting their recent success and return to pre-pandemic levels. I’m glad that those funds were available to keep people employed, but many of these companies today are out doing bolt-on acquisitions and spinning off new ventures. Personally, I am hopeful they are also paying back the tens of millions of dollars that they took to make payroll just a few months ago.”
FlyExclusive’s jet card program, launched this spring, recently passed 100 members, Segrave says.
He added, “We have invested heavily in our product and are excited to cut the ribbon on our new state-of-the-art paint refurbishment facility next month. Over the next 18 months, we will have completed refurbishment on every single aircraft in our fleet. We intend to have the nicest and best-maintained fleet in the industry. And with our internal capability will keep it that way.”
FlyExclusive is the ninth-largest for-hire private jet operator (Part 135 and 91K fleets), according to data from Argus.