|“We had originally planned to launch FXAIR at the end of the fourth quarter, but have brought it forward now to meet demand. We do not want to miss out on a new generation of people moving to private aviation this summer,” says Andrew Collins, CEO of FXAIR and Sentient Jet. “We see it as a solution for a large number of people that maybe do not want to commit to a jet card or even just want to experience flying privately.”
FXAIR is the latest company from Directional Aviation – the business aviation investment company which owns fractional Flexjet, jet card company Sentient Jet, tech platform Tuvoli, maintenance provider Constant Aviation, aircraft remanufacturer Nextant, charter broker PrivateFly, aircraft broker Sojourn and operator Corporate Wings.
Even though it benefits from aircraft coming out of Flexjet’s fractional programme (with existing FXAIR registrations and tail numbers – which is where the name comes from), FXAIR is a big investment. Especially when, WINGX data shows, business aviation flights in North America were down 23% in the first weeks of July.
The new premium charter company is launching with a fleet of 12 Challenger 300s and five Global Express aircraft. Flexjet will operate all the aircraft for FXAIR. Based in New York, the charter company has 40 employees (18 of whom joined in the last year with the rest moving from PrivateFly US) and is looking for more.
FXAIR offers two core products. The first is simple on-demand charter bookable on an app, the second is its Aviator account that offers some benefits (including faster booking, free de-icing and catering). It costs $100,000 to open an Aviator account but this is fully refundable.
“For new fliers, any commitment like a membership is a real pain point,” says Gregg Slow, president of FXAIR. “We want to make using the basic product as simple as possible while offering certain benefits with the Aviator account.” Slow was Americas President at PrivateFly and before that worked at XOJET and NetJets.
He says that FXAIR aims to assemble a fleet of 25 Challengers, six Nextant 400 and five Global Express aircraft within the next two years. It also plans to add Phenom 300s and additional large cabin aircraft as demand grows. As well as Flexjet aircraft, FXAIR will also source aircraft from outside Directional.
“FXAIR is a clean-sheet design for business aviation. In the last few months, we have seen increasing demand from people who want to fly privately,” says Slow. “They may be new to business aviation, but they want a premium product and are focused on safety, consistency and stability.”
With online mobile booking, an app and payments technology (built using Tuvoli software), FXAIR is designed to make booking flights very simple. The company is also offering a $31,900 capped one-way transcontinental flight for Aviator programme members. It will also help customers book flights on aircraft with other operators.
FXAIR replaces PrivateFly in the US, but PrivateFly will continue to offer international on-demand charter. Collins says that PrivateFly is growing fast internationally. “In the last few months we have spoken to so many people looking at business aviation for the first time and all the paths lead to the same place,” says Collins. “At Sentient we often talk to people who do not have much experience of private aviation and the great thing is now they can try a high-quality product with FXAIR.”
Slow adds: “The five key business aviation products are charter, premium charter – or what people have referred to as branded charter, jet cards, fractional ownership and whole aircraft ownership. Directional is the only private aviation company that offers all of these products.”
It also did not want to waste this crisis.