Four Seasons Private Jet, Flexjet Learjet 85 replacement, Textron Profits Up Thanks to Beechcraft, Boeing 767 Review, China Business Aviation

The Four Seasons Private Jet takes off

Four Seasons launches the hotel industry’s first fully branded private jets

The Toronto-based Four Seasons hotel group last year revealed that its guests would have new means of travelling from one of its properties to another, by announcing that the company would launch the hotel industry’s first fully branded private jet in 2015.

A retrofitted Boeing 757 featuring interiors by the hotel group’s designers, the Four Seasons Jet – as it is perhaps a touch unimaginatively named – accommodates just 52 passengers rather than the 233 this category of aircraft usually carries.

Four Seasons Private Jet

The private jet is currently being used to facilitate a 16-day “Backstage with the Arts” tour that will see passengers visit some of Europe’s most significant cultural attractions, including Milan’s Teatro alla Scala and Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia; accommodation en route is in Four Seasons hotels. That particular trip was priced at £119,000 (about £71,000) per person, with the rate including all flights, meals and overnight stays.

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Flexjet Moving Forward with Lear 85 Replacement

Flexjet has found a replacement for the Bombardier Learjet 85 and has been working to transition customers who ordered shares in this now-shelved model into the new aircraft, chairman Kenn Ricci told AIN yesterday. Ricci did not specify the selection for replacement, saying the company expects to release those details later this summer after Flexjet has reached out to its entire customer base. Flexjet was the single largest customer for the all-composite twinjet, which Bombardier “paused” earlier this year.  Flexjet had orders for at least 60 Learjet 85s and had sold “well over” 60 shares in the business jet. Initial deliveries to Flexjet were anticipated late last year, but the aircraft was still in flight-test at the time.

Bombardier Learjet 85

Flexjet, meanwhile, is preparing to take delivery of its first two Gulfstreams—both G450s—in the coming weeks and four over the next several months as it begins a rollout of international services, Ricci said. The first crews have begun G450 training.

Gulfstream G450

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Nepal Earthquake: Travel Companies and Tour Operators Respond (VIDEO)

Following a devastating earthquake that struck Nepal just before noon on Saturday, tour operators and travel companies are beginning to respond to the crisis. Here’s the latest.

The earthquake and subsequent aftershocks have killed at least 4,000 and left more than 100,000 homeless, the Guardian reports. More than 1,300 of those killed were in the Kathmandu valley, with another 944 from the Sindulpalchuk district east of the Nepalese capital. Areas west of the earthquake’s epicenter, such as ManasluDhaulagiri and Annapurna, have experienced only light damage.

According to the NPR blog, the temples and court buildings in Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage site, have suffered heavy damage

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Nepal Travel Alert

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nepal and recommends that they defer nonessential travel there following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25.  The U.S. Department of State also recommends that U.S. citizens in Nepal exercise caution when traveling in or planning departure from the country.  The possibility for aftershocks of significant magnitude persists.  Infrastructure is fragile and access to basic resources, including healthcare, could be limited.  Cell phone and internet service are intermittent. In Kathmandu and elsewhere, some buildings are collapsed and some roads are impassable. Many roads are crowded with people and transportation is difficult.  Kathmandu’s airport has been re-opened since the earthquake, however, it may close temporarily without notice due to aftershocks or inclement weather.  We encourage travelers to contact your airline to confirm flight availability before departing for the airport.  If you are in a safe location, the best option might be to shelter in place.  This Travel Alert expires on August 1, 2015.

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Beechcraft Buoys Textron Aviation in First Quarter

Jet deliveries at Cessna Aircraft fell nearly 6 percent year-over-year in the first quarter, but Textron Aviation managed to log higher revenue and profit thanks to Beechcraft, Scott Donnelly, chairman and CEO at parent company Textron, said today during a quarterly investor conference call. Revenue at Textron Aviation soared by $266 million, to $1.051 billion, “primarily reflecting the impact of the Beechcraft King Air 350 acquisition” in March last year. The segment also reported a profit of $67 million in the first quarter, compared with $14 million a year ago.

Beechcraft King Air 350 ER

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Used Aircraft Review: Boeing 767

Feeling cramped in your large-cabin bizjet? Maybe you need one of these.

More than a thousand Boeing 767s have been delivered since the aircraft made its first flight in 1981. Its popularity with the airlines—which can stuff 200 to 304 passengers in one, depending on model and configuration—has waned in recent years, however. The commercial carriers are increasingly parking 767s and ­opting for more modern and fuel-efficient successors.

Boeing 767 VIP Business Jet

For well-heeled individuals (see below) who worry less about fuel costs, though, the 767 can offer a lot of aircraft for a relatively low price. The model was developed in tandem with the narrow-body Boeing 757 (see review in the December 2013/January 2014 BJT), which also features first-generation glass-panel avionics; the same pilot type rating is good for both aircraft.

Variants of the 767 include the 767-200, 200ER (extended range), 300, 300ER, 400ER and freighter. The Dash 300 models have a 21-foot fuselage stretch to 180 feet compared with the series 200s; the 400ER has another 21 feet on top of that for a total of 201 feet. Range varies (without auxiliary fuel tanks) from 3,850 nautical miles for a Dash 200 to 6,473 nautical miles for a Dash 400ER with winglets. The majority of 767s produced to date are 300ER models.

While most all models have seen VIP duty, you’ll find the best deals on the older Dash 200s and 200ERs. The Dash 200s can also use considerably shorter runways—5,800 feet at the maximum takeoff weight of 315,000 pounds. (Weights on other variants increase to 450,000 pounds and runway requirements can expand to 10,200 feet for a 400ER at maximum takeoff weight.) That can make these Dash 200 aircraft more attractive to corporate and VIP users who traditionally desire to access more airports with shorter runways.

Boeing 767 VIP business jet interior

You can pick one up in airline configuration for as little as $9 million, and that’s a pretty good deal for a big—and I do mean big—airplane that can fly 8,000 miles nonstop at a top speed of 469 knots. (A new 767 with an airline interior will set you back $185 million.) Even if you install a beautiful interior, you’ll be hard-pressed to spend more than $50 million for the package—unless, of course, you want a throne room and antimissile defense.

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The Year in Business Aviation in China

Activity in China has slowed a bit, but that’s good news for some.

A cooling economy combined with new government policies to control corruption and extravagant spending may have dampened business aviation activity in China this past year, but these factors have also created opportunities for business jet travelers. Moreover, the slowdown has had little impact on regional growth in support services and infrastructure, or on optimism about future prospects.

“It’s not so much a frenzy as it was before, but in the long term it’s going in the right direction,” says Carey Matthews, general manager of Shanghai Hawker Pacific Business Aviation Service Centre at ­Hongqiao International Airport. Matthews reports that Shanghai Hawker Pacific saw 6 percent growth in traffic at its facility last year, while his company expanded its services, becoming an authorized Cessna service center and receiving approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China to perform structural repairs.

The less froth in the market and the more services, the better, so as a business jet traveler, you could say it was an excellent year. But there’s no denying the impact the government’s anti-corruption and austerity campaigns have had on charter activity.

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