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Monday, September 29, 2008

New VLJ Operator for UK

Initially using two Embraer Phenom 100s, FlairJet, a new private jet charter operator, plans to launch operations from Oxford Airport, UK next May. The company’s backers – three London-based lawyers – also have further lease options for 2010 delivery. FlairJet’s first purchased aircraft arrives in 2012.
The fledgling company started life as a working project earlier this year under VLJ Consultancy Ltd, a new company aimed at providing support to the new and evolving Very Light Jet market. Founder David Fletcher, a current Airbus captain with Monarch Airlines, apparently decided to dabble in charter operations, heading up the new charter firm.
Planning to go part time at Monarch in November, he is moving his consulting firm to Oxford Airport’s Farmhouse Building, effective early March, 2009. He plans to continue VLJ Consultancy Limited as an independent company (with a small staff) offering VLJ procurement, certification and management, pilot, engineer and ferry solutions, AOC solutions and expertise on aircraft training and mentoring.
Fletcher is planning a route network of charter services with the four-seat jets. FlairJet’s Phenom 100s, featuring interiors from BMWDesignWorks USA, will have a range of 1,160 nm (with reserves) enabling easy reach to cities in mainland Europe, domestic UK routes and also Scotland and Ireland, where there is big appeal for short leisure/sporting breaks.
Flight operations is headed by Gerry Rolls, former flight operations director at Air Atlantique, who is now engaged in securing the company’s Air Operating Certificate (AOC), as well as recruiting for post holders and pilots. He will also serve as training captain on the Phenom. Fletcher will also fly the Phenom.
FlairJet gained financial backing of three unnamed lawyers who have embraced this new business model, said Fletcher. They also backed the decision to base the company at Oxford Airport, where new owners have committed to a sizeable program of investment in new facilities, including a new business aviation terminal, oxfordjet.
“Oxford Airport in the Thames Valley is well positioned outside the congested London TMA (terminal movement area) with close proximity of the M40, A34, A40 and A44 road networks,” said Fletcher, noting it will be the company’s hub as it adds spokes around Europe. “It has no slot restrictions, unlike other London-centric business airports and its fees and charges are very attractive for the small business jet operator. We are extremely confident with our choice of aircraft too, for performance and for our passengers’ comfort.”
The Phenom 100 flies at 380kts and has a certified ceiling at 41,000ft. European EASA certification is expected in early 2009. For the longer term, FlairJet is looking at the larger Phenom 300 or possibly the Embraer Legacy 500 for future growth.
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