Phenom light jet operator Airshare moves into the super-midsize aircraft category, announcing a firm order for three Bombardier Challenger 350s. It adds options for 17 more, meaning it will add as many as 20 new aircraft. Based on Conklin & De Decker’s estimated price of $27 million per unit, the deal is worth $540 million. Airshare currently operates a fleet of 20 Phenom 300s and 100s for its fractional share and jet card program. Additionally, it manages 26 aircraft for owners.
The first Challenger 350 will be delivered this week and painted in the Airshare gold and blue livery. Plans call for having three in service by year’s end, at which point they will operate in its fractional program. Until then, Airshare plans to use the jets for the charter market.
“The addition of super-midsize jets into our fleet represents a significant milestone in our vision to intelligently expand the Airshare brand nationally,” said John Owen, its President and CEO.
“Considerable due diligence went into choosing the Challenger 350 business jet, with input from our current customers and contributions from every department in the company. Partnering with Bombardier puts us in an excellent position to attract future customers who have wanted to join our program but desired a larger aircraft with greater range, while also ensuring we continue to deliver best-in-class service that has become synonymous with Airshare,” Owen continued.
Airshare’s fractional program is structured differently than others. It provides each owner of a 1/16th share with 20 flight days per year. On those days, they can fly as much as they need, up to the maximum 14-hour crew duty limit.
When shareowners begin and end in the same location while keeping the aircraft and crew with them, they save up to 35% off their hourly rate. Having the pilots and aircraft stay with customers as they travel provides makes it easier to visit multiple locations and adjust schedules during the day.
One customer who’s already excited is NFL star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Kansas City Chiefs’ signal-caller is an ambassador for the Lenexa, Kansas-based operator. “Patrick loves the flexibility of making changes to his travel plans on the fly, so our program is perfect for him. He has multiple business interests and is always on the move. He typically has his family with him, so this is the perfect aircraft for his needs,” says Andy Tretiak, Airshare’s CMO.
Tretiak tells Private Jet Card Comparisons the Challenger 350s are a key to its upcoming expansion into the Northeastern U.S. “We needed an aircraft with a standup cabin with transcontinental range.” Airshare’s Challenger 350s will seat nine in the cabin, including a three-seat divan.
“We appreciate the confidence Airshare has expressed in our Challenger 350 aircraft. This jet is the all-around performer. No other aircraft in the category comes close to its superior reliability, range, speed, performance, cabin experience, and operating costs,” said Éric Martel, President and CEO, Bombardier.
Airshare targets flyers based within 120 nautical miles of Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, and Dallas, Texas; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Kansas City and Wichita, Kansas; Denver; St. Louis; Chicago; Indianapolis; and Buffalo. It includes key markets such as Cincinnati, Louisville, Milwaukee, and Toronto.
Tretiak says customers were already flying as far afield as South America on the Phenom 300s. The Challengers will enable it to serve existing customers better as well as attract new ones.
According to Argus, Airshare is the nation’s fourth-largest fractional operator measured by flight hours. It trails NetJets, Flexjet, and PlaneSense, which operates the Pilatus PC-24 and PC-12. With 11,835 hours last year, Airshare ranks 12th on our list of largest for-hire private jet operators in North America, a combination of Part 135 and 91k flight hours.
Airshare doesn’t plan to make the Challenger available as part of its jet card program initially. However, Tretiak says as more arrive, that’s a strong possibility.
While the Challengers are new to Airshare’s fractional fleet, it already manages Bombardier-built aircraft, including a Global 5000. Airshare’s Challengers will include high-speed Ka-band connectivity and an advanced cabin management system.