The charter airline flying one of the world’s cheapest private jets is expanding to the West Coast. One-way flights start at $3,000.

VeriJet Cirrus Vision Jet
A VeriJet Cirrus Vision Jet.

  • VeriJet is expanding to the West Coast and Southwest with the Cirrus Vision Jet.
  • Flights cost $3,000 per hour with no repositioning fees if the flight is within 700 miles of Santa Maria, California.
  • A new jet card program also offers discounted rates with a 100-hour commitment.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One of America’s newest charter airlines is expanding to the West Coast, and bringing the Cirrus Vision Jet with it.

Starting July 26, VeriJet is offering flights across the West Coast and American Southwest in the airline’s furthest venture outside of its home region of the Southeast.

A single flight hour in the Vision Jet is $3,000 plus tax, and VeriJet doesn’t charge reposition rates if the flight is within a 700-mile radius of Santa Maria, California. That means one-way flights on city pairs such as Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Phoenix-San Francisco, and San Diego, California-San Jose, California, will only cost as much as the flight time, with a minimum of one hour.

Founder and CEO Richard Kane told Insider that the geography of the West Coast is perfect for the Vision Jet since the aircraft thrives when flying at the lower altitudes common on the region’s most popular air routes. VeriJet can also use smaller airports such as Santa Monica Airport that are off-limits to larger jets.

The Vision Jet is ideal for single-pilot operations and can fly four adult passengers with a top range of around 1,300 nautical miles, as Insider found on a recent demonstration flight with VeriJet. Low-speed WiFi is available in-flight and Sirius XM Satellite Radio is also available for entertainment.

VeriJet Cirrus Vision Jet
A VeriJet Cirrus Vision Jet.

VeriJet’s aircraft also come with safety features like Garmin Safe Return where the plane will land itself at the push of a button in case of emergency. A parachute also comes standard on the Vision Jet in the event of an engine failure.

Read More: Private jet industry CEOs say business will boom as the wealthy abandon airlines and reveal what they’re doing now to take advantage

VeriJet is also launching a jet card program where the hourly rate is discounted to $2,500 per hour when 100 hours of flight time are prepaid for $250,000. Members also have access to a new “jet safari” program of curated itineraries in different regions.

Itineraries include trips to Canada to see Hudson Bay or the polar bears of Manitoba, Caribbean getaways to locales like Virgin Gorda in this British Virgin Islands, and a national park trip that includes sites like Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Yellowstone National Parks. Another opportunity includes a transatlantic crossing as VeriJet repositions its planes to Europe in advance of its debut on the continent.

Kane calls jet cardholders “founders” since they’ll be accompanied by board members on these trips, with whom they could share direct feedback about the company.

“It’s mostly about going out of the way places that you can’t get to on anything but a small turboprop or [a Vision Jet],” Kane said, “and then there’s spending time with the founders of the company so that you can mold it to what you want it to be.”

VeriJet Cirrus Vision Jet Demo Flight
VeriJet’s Cirrus Vision Jet.

VeriJet also just completed a redesign of its website, where customers can directly book flights without having to go through a broker. A mobile application is also on the way with VeriJet just waiting on Apply Pay functionality before it takes to the App Store.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A private aviation firm is giving travelers a taste of the high life by offering private jet flights for as low as $450: Meet Set Jet

Set Jet
Set Jet.

  • Set Jet is a private airline offering private jet flights for similar prices as domestic first class.
  • A monthly membership costs $99.95 and flights on wide-cabin Bombardier jets start at $449.95 one-way.
  • A total of 11 year-round routes are offered with a New York-Los Angeles route coming in the next year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One company is bridging the price gap between flying first class and flying private and opening up the glitzy side of aviation to those that were traditionally priced out of it.

Set Jet is a membership-based private airline offering seats on a true private jet for as low as $449.95 one-way. Members pay a monthly fee of $99.95 and are given access to flights on 11 year-round routes throughout the American West.

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based company isn’t the first to sell seats on shared private aircraft but its founders say they’ve found a way to make the business model sustainable, and open up private flying to a larger audience. Having the monthly fee also discourages those that truly aren’t able to fly private from signing up, for which companies like JetSmarter were infamous.

How it works

Only Set Jet members can fly on Set Jet aircraft and a limited number of memberships are available in each market so flyers can get a seat when they want. Anyone can sign up for a membership and the only initiation fee is a one-time “security fee” of $99.95.

Members can then initiate or buy seats on flights throughout Set Jet’s network, which covers four states and Mexico. Flyers can book a seat up to 30 minutes before a flight’s scheduled departure time.

Not are routes are operated daily, though, and some as offered as little as twice-weekly. Once a flight is initiated, Set Jet will perform it even if there’s just one person onboard paying that’s paying $449.95.

Set Jet’s flagship jet is the Bombardier Challenger 850 that rivals in size to wide-cabin Gulfstream or Dassault aircraft. The cabin is tall enough for most to stand up in and as many as 19 people can be seated comfortably.

Set Jet
Set Jet.

It’s open seating onboard the plane but there are no bad seats, as Insider found on a demonstration flight from Scottsdale to San Diego, California. A cabin attendant welcomes passengers onboard the aircraft and offers complimentary snacks and drinks, with in-flight WiFi also available.

Private terminals are used at all destinations to complete the private jet experience. Security checkpoints are non-existent and flyers can arrive just minutes before the flight’s scheduled departure.

How Set Jet makes money

Set Jet has the heart of a low-cost airline that’s offering an incredibly luxurious product, and its choice of aircraft is the perfect example. Buying parts for Challenger 850s is cheaper because of the aircraft’s second life as an airliner known as the CRJ200.

“If you go to buy a set of brakes for a Challenger 604 and you tell them you’re buying them for a Challenger 604, it’s going to be a $55,000 set of brakes,” Trey Smith, Set Jet’s chief operating officer, told Insider. “You go to buy a set of brakes for a CRJ200 – same brakes, same part, different part number – it’s $5,000.”

Set Jet Bombardier Challenger 850 Private Jet Flight
Flying on private jet firm Set Jet.

Thousands of memberships offset the cost per passenger and memberships have skyrocketed during the pandemic. “We did see a lot of new memberships that were from people who normally would never have flown with us but they were looking for alternatives to commercial travel because of COVID,” Smith said.

Read More: Private jet industry CEOs say business will boom as the wealthy abandon airlines and reveal what they’re doing now to take advantage

Smith says that it’s easy for wealthier clients to purchase one and forget about it, attributing to a low attrition rate during the pandemic.

Set Jet is eyeing new markets like the Texas triangle and the Northeast. One route launching in the next year will be between New York and Los Angeles.

A higher membership tier will be required, costing $1,000 per month, and the price of a one-way fare will be $3,500. The Embraer Lineage 1000, the private jet version of the Embraer E190, will fly that route.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I repossess private yachts worth up to $20 million when owners default on their loans. Here’s what happens when I track them down.

Ken Cage and a 120-foot yacht that he repossessed.
Ken Cage has been a high-asset repo man for over a decade.

  • Ken Cage repossesses high-end luxury assets like yachts and jets whose owners have failed to pay their loans.
  • Since 2005, Cage’s team has repossessed 2,000 boats, some of which are worth as much as $20 million.
  • Here’s what his job is like, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I first met my buddy Bob Weeks when we were 10 years old, growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Now, almost five decades later, we’re in business together repossessing yachts and private jets from all over the country.

It’s our job to chase down expensive assets from people who have defaulted on their bank loans. At the end of the day, we’re a bank’s last resort. When the bank calls me and issues a repo contract, it means they’ve exhausted all of their internal efforts – their automated reminders, follow-up phone calls, past due letters, and administrative attempts to be paid back have been largely ignored by the borrower.

I usually come in around 60 to 65 days after the ‘past-due’ marker.

Ken Cage yacht repo
A 90-foot yacht from one of Cage’s repos.

Once my repo team gets involved, it’s time to kick things up a notch. My job is to retrieve the collateral any way I can, service it, sell it to a third party, and recoup the cash for the bank. My company only charges between $400 and $1,000 for the actual recovery; our real payday comes from the sale of the asset itself. The standard yacht broker commission is 10% but the rate decreases as the value of the yacht goes up, and we negotiate on a case-by-case basis with our clients.

Since Bob and I bought an existing repo company based in Florida in 2005, we’ve repossessed 2,000 boats and sold off more than half of them, ranging from a $1,000 1975 Trojan 32′ to a $20 million Benetti 160’+.

Most of the time when the bank gives us a repo contract, they provide very few details.

Pulling lines away from the dock to repossess a boat. Ken Cage
Pulling lines away from the dock to repossess a boat.

We usually get the debtor’s name and last known address, and the year, make, and model of the boat along with the Hull ID or VIN number. The rest is up to us.

Banks can also simultaneously open the repo contract up to multiple repo companies, making our job even more challenging because then it becomes a race to see who can find the asset and repo it first.

This happened to me and my partner, Danny Thompson, when we were on the Discovery Channel show Airplane Repo in 2014. We were repossessing a $3 million custom-built yacht when another repo crew showed up and began towing the boat with us on it. Danny managed to cut the tow line and I drove the boat away, leaving the other repo guys in our wake. That job alone earned us $300,000 commission.

For each repo, we begin with an online search of state registries. We also check the US Coast Guard history which provides the chain of ownership and any name changes for the yachts. Then we start making calls. Sometimes, we’re able to locate a boat with just one call thanks to local spotters around the country keeping an eye out for us.

At the end of the day, I’m not here to embarrass anyone – I’m just here to recover the bank’s assets.

Ken Cage Azimut yacht.
A repo’d Azimut yacht.

When I do come face to face with a debtor, I always tell them no one has to know why I’m here. For all I care, they can tell onlookers I’m buying their boat from them and they’re ripping me off. If they cooperate, they can save face. It’s all about tapping into their ego. One guy even helped me by hooking up his own boat for me to repo so he didn’t look bad.

Often, deep down debtors are just relieved it’s all over; they know it’s just a matter of time until we catch up with them. But there are the belligerent types who will put up a fight. I had one guy in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Area who chained the propeller of his boat to the dock in the hopes of causing damage to it, as one last shot at the bank.

Over the years, I’ve been in high speed chases on sea and land and dodged booby traps set up by angry debtors.

Ken Cage yacht repo
Cage transporting a repo’d yacht and riding a Jetski in search of another yacht.

I’ve dealt with professional athletes twice my size looking to fight me, a drunk wielding a shovel at my head, being shot at, you name it.

Even though I’m surrounded by boats, I’ve never owned one because I didn’t have the time to enjoy it. Between 2005 and 2012, I was on the road about 250 days a year. But now that my four kids are older, we’re looking into getting a 24′-30′ fun family boat. One thing I know for sure is that I’ll pay for it in cash.

Read the original article on Business Insider

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell flew Kristi Noem to Republican Governors Association conference on private jet: Politico

Kristi Noem
Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

  • Mike Lindell flew Gov. Kristi Noem to a RGA conference on his private jet, according to Politico.
  • Lindell was booted from the event for plans to confront two governors about the election, per Politico.
  • Noem is a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota flew on MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s private jet en route to a three-day Republican Governors Association (RGA) conference in Nashville, Tennessee, this week, according to a Politico report.

Lindell, a high-profile ally of former President Donald Trump, reportedly was booted from the event after planning to grill Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Brian Kemp of Georgia about the 2020 election results in their respective states, per Politico. President Joe Biden defeated Trump in both Arizona and Georgia, significant Sun Belt triumphs for the Democrats, but Lindell has continued to push the former president’s false election-fraud claims.

An official told Politico that Lindell was unable to attend official RGA events since he was not a full member of the organization.

However, Lindell was allowed access to the RGA meeting as a “guest” of Noem and a “prospective member,” according to Politico.

Earlier this week, Lindell told Politico that after arriving in Nashville on Monday and intending to stay for much of the week, he changed course and departed in his jet on Tuesday.

Lindell’s itinerary shift forced Noem to find alternate accommodations for her return home, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke with Politico.

However, Noem spokesperson Ian Fury fully disputes this claim.

“Lindell was not a guest of Governor Noem’s at the conference,” he told Politico. “Neither did her travel plans change following the conference. Governor Noem follows the law and reimburses for flights when appropriate.”

In a phone conversation with Politico, Lindell said that he “is not revealing anybody who goes on my plane.”

“I have people on my plane all the time and I don’t know who told you that,” he said. “I’m not disclosing anything.”

After hanging up, he sent a text message: “Anyone who ever is on my plane is highly confidential! I cannot comment on that or my plane’s flights … This is for security reasons[.] I have had many threats since I went public with the Dominion and machine evidence.”

Read more: A multitude of Trump-era mysteries are poised to come roaring back into the headlines. Everyone involved is bracing for what happens after that.

In February, Lindell was sued by Dominion Voting Systems for $1.3 billion for defamation after repeatedly spreading debunked claims that the company’s machines contributed to Trump’s loss. His products have also been pulled from the shelves by numerous retailers, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Costco.

Noem and Lindell have spoken at events together in the past, including a Trump rally in Michigan last September where she criticized Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s implementation of COVID-19 restrictions.

That month, she also campaigned in Minnesota with Lindell for Trump.

“It was an honor to travel to Minnesota with Mike Lindell to support President Trump in his re-election,” she wrote in a Facebook post at the time. “We both understand that we need to leave it all on the table to ensure President Trump wins on November 3rd.

Noem, who faces reelection as governor in 2022 and is widely seen as a likely 2024 GOP presidential contender, recently started a federal PAC called the “Noem Victory Fund.”

According to Politico, most states permit governors to fly on the private jets of friends or associates, but gifts have to be reported “under certain circumstances.”

Under South Dakota law, public officials or their immediate families cannot accept gifts from lobbyists that exceed $100 during a full calendar year.

However, the state lacks any additional regulations on gifts from individuals who are not lobbyists.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Dassault’s largest-ever private jet can fly up to 7,500 nautical miles and has fighter jet tech- meet the $75 million Falcon 10X

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

  • Dassault Aviation unveiled a new jet to compete with Gulfstream and Bombardier’s heavy-hitters.
  • The Falcon 10X features a 7,500 nautical mile range and the widest cabin of any competitor.
  • Its cockpit features fighter jet features, touchscreen systems, and digital fly-by-wire technology.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Dassault Aviation is finally catching up to its competitors.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

The French aircraft manufacturer just unveiled the latest in its line of Falcon business jets, including its $75 million flagship, the Falcon 10X.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

The largest and widest business aircraft that Dassault has ever produced, the Falcon 10X aims to be a long-range leader after the company fell behind competitors Bombardier and Gulfstream in the ultra-long-range category.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Read More: French aircraft maker Dassault just unveiled a new $47 million private jet that can fly 5,500 nautical miles — take a look at the Falcon 6X

The Falcon 8X, Dassault’s current flagship, for example, only has a top range of 6,450 nautical miles, more than 1,000 nautical miles shy of its competitor’s top products.

The Dassault Falcon 8X takes to the air at Le Bourget airport on June 19.
A Dassault Falcon 8X performs at the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France June 19, 2019.

A range of 7,500 nautical miles on the Falcon 10X, however, firmly puts Dassault back in the game.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Bombardier’s Global 7500, alternatively, has a top range of 7,700 nautical miles.

VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500
A VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500.

Read More: Private jet industry CEOs say 2 new planes coming out soon will change the business forever. See inside the Gulfstream G700 and Bombardier Global 7500.

Source: Bombardier

And Gulfstream’s G700, which has not yet achieved certification, can fly 7,500 nautical miles.

11 Gulfstream G700
A cabin mockup of Gulfstream’s G700.

Read More: Gulfstream’s new $75 million private jet is the world’s largest — see inside

Source: Gulfstream

Step into the cabin of the Falcon 10X.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

An aircraft intended to fly for more than 15 hours needs to be, at the very least, comfortable. At nine feet and one inch, the Falcon 10X’s cabin is the widest of any of the ultra-long-range business jets from Dassault, Gulfstream, and Bombardier.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Rival aircraft top out at eight feet and two inches, the width of the Gulfstream G700.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

The Falcon 10X also boasts the tallest cabin among its competitors with a height of six feet and eight inches.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

The cabin can be divided into four areas, each with unique touches. “Comfort and productivity” were guiding principles in designing the living areas, Carlos Brana, Dassault’s executive vice president for civil aviation, told Insider.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Seat pairs, for example, still feature tray tables but they are individualized as to not bother the seat neighbor. They can be also brought together if need be.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

A staple on any wide-cabin private jet, the Falcon 10X also features a dining and conference area that can be used for meals or meetings.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Even the galley kitchen is used as a living area, with the crew rest area doubling as a seat. Unlike other private jets, two windows illuminate the kitchen with natural light and open the space that’s traditionally reserved as a work area for cabin attendants.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

An entertainment suite acts as a retreat to unwind on longer flights, complete with a divan and wide-screen television.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

The bedroom is located at the rear of the aircraft as an onboard retreat. The extra width of the cabin allows for a queen-size bed to fit in the room.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Aircraft owners can also opt for another seat in the bedroom to act as an office or a private setting for meals. “We created an apartment, a penthouse in the sky,” Agnès Gervais, Dassault’s head of industrial design, said.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Attached to the master bedroom is an en suite bathroom, complete with a walk-in shower, further establishing the notion of a flying apartment.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

With 19 windows on each side of the aircraft, there will be no shortage of natural light.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

In order to mitigate jet lag and other adverse effects of long hours in a plane, the jet’s cabin humidity and pressure levels can be the same at 41,000 feet as they feel at 3,000 feet.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Fresh, filtered air will also be flowing through the cabin. “Our goal is to make sure that when [passengers] exit the airplane, they are fresh, rested, relaxed, and they can go to the next stage of their trip,” Brana said.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

In the cockpit, touchscreen technology is widely used with Honeywell Aerospace’s Primus Epic avionics suite. Multi-touch functionality allows two pilots to use the same screen at once.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Read More: Aircraft will soon be voice-controlled in the next step towards self-flying planes — here’s how engineers are actively working to make it reality

Source: Dassault Aviation

Four high-definition displays give pilots information and are flanked by flight computers. Honeywell Aerospace also provided a lot of safety features including synthetic vision, airport moving maps, and a runway overrun awareness system.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Dassault was also able to use technology found on its Rafale fighter jet aircraft in the Falcon 10X.

French Air Force Dassault Rafale
A French Air Force Dassault Rafale.

Engine thrust is controlled by a single lever, despite the aircraft having two engines, just like on the Rafale

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

And pilots have heads-up displays that can help navigate through poor weather.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Side-stick controls have replaced standard control yokes, and the Falcon 10X also features digital fly-by-wire controls to improve safety. A button on each side of the cockpit can steady the plane in the event of unusual turbulence.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Both cockpit seats are also designed to lay fully flat to form a bed and eventually act as a crew rest area for one of the pilots.

That’s not allowed just yet as two pilots have to be flying at all times, but increased automation is leading to fewer pilots being needed in the cockpit in the future.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

“Our objective is to drastically reduce workload while still be able to adapt to the challenges of air traffic control,” Philippe Duchateau, Dassault’s chief test pilot, said.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Powering the Falcon 10X are two Rolls-Royce Perl 10X engines producing more than 18,000 pounds of thrust each and offering a top speed of Mach .925.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

It’s the first time that Dassault has called upon Rolls-Royce for Falcon jet aircraft engine. “We strongly believe that Rolls-Royce has the right competencies, the right technology in order to design this engine to be fitted for us,” Éric Trappier, Dassault’s chief executive officer, said.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Aiding the aircraft’s aerodynamic performance is its wing design. Dassault needed it to be effective at high speeds during cruise flight, and also at low speeds when accessing smaller airports.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

As a result, the carbon-fiber wings were swept back further and the wingspan increased.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Every city pair in the world is accessible with just one stop and non-stop city pairs include long flights like New York-Johannesburg, South Africa; Paris, France-Santiago, Chile; and Hong Kong-Atlanta, meaning fewer stops for travelers.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

“We put the bar very high, at the top,” Trappier said.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

The Falcon 10X’s entry into service is planned for late 2025.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Read the original article on Business Insider

Private jet firm Vista Global continues its rapid US growth with a new deal to acquire Apollo Jets

VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500
A VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500.

  • Vista Global is planning to acquire Apollo Jets in a deal announced Thursday. 
  • The acquisition will give Vista Global’s XO access to Apollo Jet’s roster of 4,000 clients.
  • Vista will also offer aircraft management services through air carrier Talon Air. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Vista Global on Thursday announced a deal to acquire private aviation firm Apollo Jets in the latest bid to grow its US market share.

The acquisition will give Vista around 4,000 Apollo Jets clients and a fleet of aircraft currently operated by Talon Air, an Apollo Jets company. Vista sees the opportunity to convert Apollo’s customers into XO members and subscribers, paying extra for better rates and perks like complimentary aircraft upgrades. 

“The Apollo acquisition reinforces Vista Global’s unrivaled commitment to providing every business aviation client with the best value flying solutions around the world,” Thomas Flohr, Vista Global’s founder and chairman, said in a statement. 

Growth by acquisition has been Dubai-based Vista Global’s primary means of expansion in the US, starting with the purchase of XOJET in 2018 and continuing with JetSmarter in 2019. The two companies were merged under the Vista umbrella to create XO, solidifying Vista Global as one of the largest private aviation firms in the country.

In October, Vista also acquired Wisconsin-based Red Wing Aviation and its fleet of Cessna aircraft. The 15 light jets were incorporated into the XO fleet to provide customers with a more cost-effective option compared to the firm’s larger Cessna Citation X and Bombardier Challenger super-midsize aircraft

XO offers five types of membership that range from no charge to $1,000 per month. A free membership still allows customers to book on-demand private charters but charges a $395 per flight booking service while a paid membership waives that fee and includes dynamic pricing. 

Apollo Jets, alternatively, does not operate on a membership-based model and the firm’s charter brokers often receive a commission on the flight they book for customers.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw new travel trends better suited to larger operators like XO. Current Apollo clients will benefit, for example, from XO’s fleet of “floating” aircraft, or planes that have no fixed base and can perform one-way flights for a fraction of the cost that traditional operators can offer. 

First-time flyers are also entering the industry at a record pace and premium operators like XO are positioning themselves to attract as many new clients as possible. Dynamic pricing and technologically-savvy operations were identified by industry experts interviewed by Insider as two key factors to excel in the new era. 

Seat-sharing flights are also offered by XO where flyers only pay for their seat instead of the entire aircraft to help bring costs down, as Insider found during a tour of a 16-seat Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft used for flights between White Plains, New York and Miami

Vista will now be able to offer aircraft management services through Talon Air. The Farmingdale, New York-based Part 135 carrier boasts heavy jets like the Gulfstream G550 and Challenger 604, as well as the largest fleet of super-midsize Beechcraft Hawker 4000 aircraft in the US, that XO clients will be able to book.

Talon Air’s current aircraft owners and clients are confidential but the firm’s roster boasts the likes of Lebron James and Martha Stewart

Vista expects the acquisition to be completed in the first quarter of 2021 and projects flight activity will grow by 20% following the deal. The completed deal will continue Vista’s track record of at least one acquisition per year since 2018, which shows no signs of slowing. 

“I believe this is just the beginning of consolidation in our industry and Vista Global is leading this market transformation,” Flohr said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

PRESENTING: Inside the career rise of a 29-year-old private jet broker who manages celebrity clients like Diddy and the Kardashians

Kelvin Mensah
Kelvin Mensah.

Kelvin Mensah left his life in New York, where he’d worked retail and service jobs growing up, to move to Los Angeles in 2015. By 2019, Mensah had cofounded his own company, PJKev Approved LLC, and chartered more than 300 jets.

“My first time in LA, I remember going up to the hills and looking at all these mansions,” he told Insider. “That opened up my vision and mentality to how it’s possible to acquire these assets and build wealth for your family. I said, ‘If I could find a niche of close associates with a high-net-worth business, I could make a lot of money from a small percentage.'”

Mensah, 29, is now a luxury lifestyle specialist who arranges private flights for high-profile clients, like the Kardashians and soccer superstar Neymar Jr. By focusing on excellent customer service and fair prices, he’s established a client list of more than 300 people across industries like entertainment and sports.

Subscribe here to read our feature: A 29-year-old private jet broker reveals how he built a career in luxury lifestyle from the ground up and landed celebrity clients like Diddy and the Kardashians

Read the original article on Business Insider

Private aviation thrived in 2020 despite it being the worst time to travel in the modern era – here’s a look at its wild year

santa private jet
Santa Claus boarding a private jet.

  • The private aviation industry went from virtually no flights at the peak of the pandemic to thriving by year’s end.
  • A surge in leisure travelers helped keep the industry afloat and spurred expansion for many aircraft operators. 
  • Aircraft manufacturers kept producing new models and even teamed up with the auto industry to offer some expensive package deals for unique pairings. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for the aviation industry, but private aviation has become one of the 2020’s greatest success stories.

A promising start to 2020 quickly turned sour as fears of the novel coronavirus inflicted commercial flight cancellations across Asia, with the industry as a whole going off a cliff in March. Private aviation’s continued growth since the 2008 economic recession was halted overnight as there was simply no place to go during the pandemic’s peak.

A rush of wealthy flyers chartering emergency evacuation flights quickly turned into stagnation for many operators, with some firms temporarily closing up shop and furloughing workers. But its recovery began in earnest come May with more wealthy flyers taking to the skies as lockdowns ended across the US. 

Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Colorado were among the most popular destinations early on as the wealthy wanted to social distance in peace and luxury. And aircraft manufacturers continued producing the latest and greatest private aircraft in preparation for when the world’s borders will once again be open for travel. 

Here are some of private aviation’s highlights from 2020. 

Vista Jet took delivery of its first Bombardier Global 7500

VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500
A VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500.

VistaJet became the first charter operator to acquire the Bombardier Global 7500 in 2020, offering travelers a new option for ultra-long-range travel. With a range of 7,700 nautical miles, the Global 7500 is the longest-ranged aircraft in its class, beating out any competitor from Gulfstream or Dassault Aviation. 

Cities pairs like New York-Hong Kong, Moscow-Buenos Aires, and Los Angeles-Dubai are easily achievable under the right conditions.  The jet even features a private bedroom complete with a full-size bed and owners can opt for a shower. 

The Global 7500 is still one of the rarest private jets currently flying having debuted in December 2018. A sales firm was tasked with selling a brand-new model for $70 million from an owner who had purchased but no longer wanted the aircraft.  

Airbus turns its controversial A220 into a private jet

Airbus ACJ220-100
The new Airbus “TwoTwenty” private jet.

Airbus unveiled the VIP version of its new A220 airliner, known as the Airbus Corporate Jet “TwoTwenty,” in October. European private aviation specialist Comlux was given the task of designing the interior.

Six orders have already been placed for the aircraft including two from Comlux, with operators looking to take advantage of the jet’s economics. Airbus says the plane can fly up to 5,650 nautical miles, enough to fly between Europe and the US West Coast. Comlux’s design includes an 18-seat cabin and a private bedroom with a king-size bed 

A group of aircraft management and design firms including Kestrel Aviation Management, Camber Aviation Management, and Pierrejean Vision also unveiled an alternative design for the aircraft that includes a private office and cinema suite.

XO embarks on a massive fleet refurbishment and expansion program

XOJET Aviation Bombardier Challenger 300
A newly-refurbished XOJET Aviation Bombardier Challenger 300.

VistaGlobal-owned XO is upgrading its fleet of Cessna Citation X and Bombardier Challenger 300 aircraft with interior updates and new paint jobs. The larger Challenger 300s were painted in Vista’s red and silver, better aligning the look of the two companies’ aircraft. 

We toured one of the newly-refurbished Bombardier Challenger 300s during a stop in Westhampton Beach, New York

XO also made a major acquisition of Wisconsin’s Red Wing Aviation that saw the addition of 15 light jet aircraft. The firm’s fleet now includes a mix of light jet and super-midsize aircraft to give customers more flexibility when booking, complemented by a new booking app.

Bringing on more planes also means hiring more pilots. Kevin Thomas, president and chief operating officer of XOJET Aviation, told Business Insider that 4,000 pilots have applied for his company as furloughs have crushed the airline industry.

We also reveal what private aviation executives are looking for when pilot hiring and how flying the wealthy is a different job description than flying airliners

JetLinx acquires Meridian Air Charter

Jet Linx Terminal Teterboro
Jet Linx’s private terminal at Teterboro Airport.

Jet Linx purchased Teterboro, New Jersey’s Meridian Air Charter in a deal that solidified the former as the second-largest aircraft management firm in the Northeastern US. CEO Jamie Walker told Business Insider in an exclusive interview that he decided to move forward with the deal during the pandemic, even when the industry’s recovery wasn’t assured, based on his experience during the 2008 economic recession

“We had made the determination that if there’s ever a better time to start a new location, it would be coming out of a recessionary period,” Walker told Business Insider about his firm’s 2009 expansion to Dallas, which shaped his thinking on expansion when the economy took another turn for the worse 11 years later. “So having done it once already, it was an easier decision to make this time around.”

The move gives the Omaha, Nebraska-based company a larger foothold in the New York area as Teterboro Airport is one of the busiest executive airports in the country thanks to its proximity to Manhattan. We also toured Jet Linx’s private terminal at Teterboro to see just how different the airport experience is for the wealthy. 

Private aviation firms focus more on health and safety 

XOJET Aviation Bombardier Challenger 300
A disinfectant used to clean private jets.

Aircraft operators are adopting new health and safety measures to reassure their customers that flying is safe and draw more new customers into the industry. Many now disinfect their aircraft and private terminals more frequently than before as it’s become a top concern for private flyers. 

One firm, Silver Air, created a “COVID cleared” program where every step of the journey from door to door would be verified clean to eliminate fears of contracting the virus. Flexjet also now flies its flight crews around on private aircraft to prevent them from flying on the airlines. 

Dassault Aviation unveils its Falcon 6X

Dassault Falcon 6X
The unveil of the Dassault Falcon 6X.

Dassault Aviation virtually unveiled its Falcon 6X private jet, the latest in a family of aircraft that dates back to the early days of the jet age, in December. The twin-engine jet is billed as an “ultra widebody” since it’s wider than most of the competitors in its class.

Its other cool features include oversized windows, a skylight, and a heads-up display in the cockpit that can see through the clouds. The $47 million jet can fly up to 5,500 nautical miles, enabling city pairs like Los Angeles-Moscow, New York-Tel Aviv, and London-Hong Kong. Deliveries are slated to being in 2022. 

Flexjet takes delivery of its first Embraer Praetor 600

Embraer Phenom 600 Flexjet
Flexjet’s first Embraer Phenom 600.

Flexjet took delivery of one of Embraer’s latest aircraft, the Praetor 600, in November to be used for its European division as part of a $1.4 billion order. Its nine-passenger cabin comes with a mix of club seats and a divan, as well as an enclosed lavatory. 

The jet’s impressive performance makes it a veritable jack of all trades, able to access Europe’s notoriously challenging airports like London’s City Airport and Switzerland’s Engadin Airport, as well as fly non-stop between Paris and New York. 

Aerion breaks ground on its Melbourne, Florida campus

Aerion Supersonic Aerion Park Groundbreaking
A rendering of Aerion Supersonic’s AS2 jet.

Supersonic jets will soon be built in Melbourne, Florida as Aerion is one of the frontrunners in the race to build a modern-age supersonic jet, opting first to create a business jet that can fly at speeds of Mach 1.4. The startup recently chose Melbourne International Airport in Florida to be the home of its new $300 million headquarters and production campus

Melbourne is located on Florida’s Space Coast – soon to be the Supersonic Coast –  just a few miles from NASA’s Cape Canaveral. Aerion CEO Tom Vice told Business Insider that the campus will be eco-friendly by reusing collected rainwater and providing electric vehicle charging stations for employees. 

The first aircraft will fly in five years, Vice said, and will sell for $120 million. 

Otto Aviation unveils a new private aircraft concept set to revolutionize the industry

Otto Aviation Celera 500L
Otto Aviation’s Celera 500L.

A startup shocked the industry when it unveiled the Celera 500L, a plane that can fly 4,500 nautical miles at speeds of 450 miles per hour with costs lower than even the smallest private jet. Otto Aviation is seeking to make private aviation more affordable and environmentally friendly, and its oval-shaped aircraft is set to do just that.

An hour of flight time only costs $328, a fraction of what it costs to fly the Cirrus Vision Jet, and it can easily cross oceans with its intercontinental range while only burning 18 to 25 gallons of fuel for every mile it flies. At least 31 flights have been successfully flown with the Celera 500L and it’s scheduled for certification in 2023.

Bombardier delivers the first Global 5500 and Learjet 75 Liberty to a customer

ExecuJet Bombardier Global 5500
Luxaviation Europe’s Bombardier Global 5500.

While also building new models like the Global 7500, Bombardier also looked back at its existing models to see where improvements could be made. One such result was the Global 5500, the updated version of the Global 5000, which Bombardier first delivered in June.

Luxaviation Europe was the first customer of the $46 million aircraft that boasts a range of 5,900 nautical miles. It seats 12 passengers and can fly over 10 hours at a top speed of Mach .90 thanks to Rolls-Royce Pearl engines. 

We also toured a brand-new Global 6500, the updated version of the Global 6000, in September being sold by Jetcraft.

Bombardier also delivered its first Learjet 75 Liberty, an improved version of the Learjet 75 that includes an executive office and near-cross country range, in October. The Learjet name has been a staple in private aviation for decades, flying the likes of Frank Sinatra and James Brown. 

An aircraft sales firm began accepting bitcoin for its planes

Gulfstream G650ER
A Gulfstream G650ER that could be purchased with bitcoin.

Sometimes cash isn’t always king. Sales firm Aviatrade began accepting cryptocurrency like bitcoin for its multi-million aircraft in 2020 to give buyers more options when making a purchase.  Accepting cryptocurrency allows international buyers to make major purchases without being subject to restrictions. 

A $40 million Gulfstream G650ER was the first aircraft to be offered under the new program, but any of Aviatrade’s aircraft can be bought using the currency.

A flying cruise ship joined the COVID-19 airlift by transporting personal protective equipment from China

Crystal Cruises Boeing 777
Crystal Cruises’ Boeing 777-200 named “CrystalSkye.”

The early days of the pandemic revealed a shortage of personal protective equipment in the US as healthcare workers struggled to keep up with the influx of new coronavirus patients in hospitals. A perfect storm of high demand and fewer passenger flights meant that getting more from China was more expensive and private aircraft operators saw an opportunity to get their planes back in the air.

One of the aircraft that participated was a Boeing 777-200 named CrystalSkye that acted as a flying cruise ship before the pandemic under the Crystal Cruises brand and later became a VIP aircraft available for charter. The massive cabin is ideal for heads of states and the wealthiest of travelers as it includes butler service, a bar, a full dining area, and 88 lie-flat seats. 

Kim Kardashian West later used the aircraft for her infamous island getaway and birthday bash

Aircraft manufacturers teamed up with the auto industry for some expensive collaborations

Embraer and Porsche's Duet
Embraer and Porsche’s “Duet” collaboration.

Embraer and Porsche teamed up in 2020 and unveiled their private jet and supercar pairing in November. Dubbed “Duet,” the pair includes a matching Embraer Phenom 300E and Porsche 911 Turbo S with a sticker price of $11 million that also includes a Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC watch and luggage set.

For the most rugged travelers, Kodiak Aircraft Company and Himalaya unveiled their plane and vehicle pairing, also in November. The $3 million package includes a Kodiak 100 Series II and a modernized Land Rover Defender, as well as a lifetime membership to Himalaya’s experience center in Wyoming. 

Both are geared towards travelers who are also pilots so they can conquer the land and sky with these machines. 

Jeffrey Epstein’s former Gulfstream appeared on the market

Jeffrey Epstein Gulfstream G550
A Gulfstream G550 formerly belonging to Jeffrey Epstein.

A Gulfstream G550 belonging to Jeffrey Epstein was put on the market by Equus Global Holdings in July as its former owner no longer needed the plane. Epstein frequently used the plane to fly between his residences in New York, Paris, US Virgin Islands, and New Mexico.

The jet would’ve cost $61.5 million if purchased new but Epstein acquired it secondhand, records show. Federal authorities arrested Epstein after he likely disembarked this plane after a flight from Paris to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey

Comlux unveiled its Boeing 767 private jet with air that it says kills coronavirus

Comlux Boeing BBJ767 SkyLady
Comlux’s Boeing BBJ767 “SkyLady.”

Comlux specializes in airliners-turned-private jets and one of its flagship aircraft is a VIP Boeing 767-200 named SkyLady. The aircraft recently underwent a cabin upgrade during the pandemic to include a private apartment within the plane, a first class cabin, and a premium economy cabin.

Just like CrystalSkye, which Comlux also operates for Crystal Cruises, this plane is meant for the upper echelons of society. One of the hidden upgrades that may be the aircraft’s new best selling point, however, is an ionization system that Comlux says kills the novel coronavirus.

Passengers onboard don’t need to wear a mask while on board as a result.

Leisure customers dominated in the industry and became the backbone for its recovery

private jet
Passengers boarding a private jet.

Business travelers have been largely grounded since March as companies are shifting to virtual meetings to avoid sending their employees out on the road where they could possibly be exposed to COVID-19. The loss of the segment hindered private aviation’s recovery until another stepped up and took the skies in massive numbers, leisure travelers. 

A surge of travelers over the summer continued into fall and has been propping up the industry while business travelers stay home. Firms began shifting their efforts towards leisure flying even more after a McKinsey and Company study found that only 90% of ultra-high-net-worth individuals don’t fly private, revealing an untapped market. 

Private planes were used in 2020 for everything from a vacation to escaping lockdowns in the UK and even flying home to vote in person on Election Day

Expansion was widespread in the industry with XO looking to bring on more planes and pilots, Directional Aviation speeding up the launch of FXAIR, Jet Linx acquiring Meridian Air Charter, and Jet Edge International growing its point-to-point fleet of Bombardier Challengers. 

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