After an Oklahoma client paid AeroVanti $300,000 for a Top Gun membership, they say they were told the flight provider doesn’t offer flights west of Texas but were refused a refund.
AeroVanti is facing its third lawsuit from disgruntled customers.
Last month AeroVanti was hit with twin lawsuits.
The lawyer who filed them said AeroVanti has the “hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme.“
On Monday, we exclusively reported AeroVanti’s entire fleet was grounded, although it was trying to restart flying.
According to FlightAware, N290BC flew from Springfield, Massachusetts, to AeroVanti’s base in Sarasota, Florida.
It was its first flight since May 21.
Last week, AeroVanti hired a new CEO, who left his previous post under a cloud.
The latest action was filed on June 12, 2023, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
The plaintiffs allege that AeroVanti executives lied to them about available aircraft and the availability of flights west of the Mississippi River.
Industrial Developers of Oklahoma, LLC (IDO), purchased a $300,000 Top Gun membership with the promise of 200 flight hours.
According to the lawsuit, “(The Plaintiff) was told by (VP-Sales Ben) Ricketts that AeroVanti had available for use six (6) Piaggio turboprop aircraft, multiple Embraer Phenom 100 jet aircraft, a Cessna Citation jet aircraft, a Learjet aircraft and was in the process of acquiring some model of Gulfstream aircraft which would also be available for flights.”
It continues, “Ricketts’ statements regarding the number of aircraft were false. AeroVanti, through a related entity, AeroVanti Aircraft, LLC, actually has only two (2) Piaggio P. 180s and one (1) Learjet 31A registered with the Federal Aviation Association.”
However, the crux of the dispute came after Industrial Developers joined on April 28, 2023. It then attempted to book a flight.
The filing states, “After entering into the Membership Agreement and paying the membership fee of $300,000 for a Top Gun Membership, IDO attempted to book its first flight from AeroVanti, a flight to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.”
It continues, “IDO was then informed by Ricketts, AeroVanti’s salesman, that AeroVanti does not fly west of Texas. Ricketts’ statement was the first time IDO was ever made aware of any flight restrictions or limitations, despite having specifically discussed with Ricketts flying in the western part of the country.”
The lawsuit notes, “The Membership Agreement specifically addresses departure and landing slots in the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, which is west of Texas.”
It says if the Plaintiffs had been aware of the policy, they would not have joined AeroVanti.
The filing points to the AeroVanti website: “Whatever the purpose of your flight, we will get you to your destination in a safe, smooth, and timely manner. Our Piaggio P. 180 Avanti aircraft are currently available to take you wherever you may need to go across the continental United States.”
The lawsuit continues, “When (Industrial Developers) was made aware of the purported flight restrictions and after not being able to successfully schedule a flight, (the member) made demand upon AeroVanti for an immediate return of the Membership Fee and termination of the Membership Agreement.”
It says, “AeroVanti has refused to return the Membership Fee and terminate the Membership Agreement.”
Another Top Gun contract from March 2023, reviewed by Private Jet Card Comparisons, noted a Western U.S. surcharge.
“All domestic flights are charged the Standard Hourly Rate (unless otherwise provided herein), together with a Western Travel Surcharge, if applicable, of $1,000/hour for any flight that includes a leg west of the Mississippi River.
– AeroVanti Top Gun contact from March 2023
That text is omitted in the contract for Industrial Developers (below).
The lawsuit names AeroVanti Aviation, LLC, Patrick Britton-Harr, and Benjamin Ricketts as defendants.
The flight provider typically only had one or two airplanes available with as many as 400 members, according to sources with knowledge.