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Inside a Flexjet cabin. (Handout)
Inside a Flexjet cabin. (Handout)

Jet-sharing soars as economy picks up Add to ...

Flexjet, which caters to flyers sharing in the ownership of a business jet, says sales bounced back strongly in the first quarter, indicating a recovery in demand.

The division of Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. says it posted new business growth of 83 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, compared with the year-earlier period.

Flexjet provides not only share ownership – known as fractional ownership – but whole aircraft ownership and management service, as well as charter brokerage services and jet cards for the purchase of flight time.

It said in a news release Thursday that new jet card sales increased 48 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter.

Fractional sales grew 108 per cent year-over-year in the quarter, the company said.

Flexjet said that buyers who put off making any decisions on items like private jets during the uncertain economic climate are returning.

“With the economy picking up speed, owners who have been tentative since the downturn have started to gain more confidence and are taking more and more trips,” said Flexjet president Deanna White.

“Having the Dow Jones industrial average reach a record-breaking 15,000 points is not only a significant financial milestone, but also very good for our industry.”

Flexjet says it’s hiring pilots to satisfy increasing demand, a first since the 2008 downturn.

The Easter travel weekend saw Flexjet record flying hours at levels not experienced since the heights of 2007, the company said.

In the fractional ownership space, Flexjet is second in global market share to NetJets Inc., owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Flexjet – which has about 850 customers – offers a range of aircraft from Bombardier’s family of business jets, including the Learjet, the Challenger 300 and Challenger 605.

Bombardier just pulled the wraps off its new 10-seat Challenger 350, with NetJets as its launch partner, at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Geneva.

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