Oxford, Mississippi-based Nicholas Air is continuing its strategy of measured growth. The charter operator, which focuses on the jet card membership segment, added three more Embraer Phenom 300E light jets. It now has 13. It also added a second Challenger super-midsize private jet from Bombardier, a recent vintage Challenger 350 model. The company buys new and nearly new private jets and maintains an average fleet age of under five years; however, it eschews large orders, preferring to expand in small increments based on membership growth and demand.
“We’ve continued to invest in the best and most modern aircraft in the market. Adding three new Phenom 300E airframes and a Challenger 350 just in the last 60 days continues that trend,” says Nicholas Correnti, the Founder and CEO.
While industry news has focused in large part on the frenzied mergers and acquisitions activity, operators have been boosting their fleets via organic growth, taking both new and pre-owned aircraft to accommodate record demand. NetJets, the world’s largest operator, is taking delivery of around 125 jets over an 18-month period, while competitor Flexjet expects to receive around 50 new aircraft this year.
Vista Global, which owns a number of prominent brokers and operators, including VistaJet, XO Global, XOJet Aviation, Apollo Jets, Red Wing Aviation, and Talon Air, recently said it wants to increase deliveries of Bombardier Global 7500s this year. It is expected to have at least 17 by yearend, but is considering adding three more of the $75 million ultra-long-range jets. In 2021, it announced a boosted order for Challenger 350s to the existing deal for Globals it already had in place.
On the other end of the scale, Tradewind Aviation said it would double its fleet of Pilatus PC-12s with an order for 20 of the single-engine turboprops.
Earlier this month, FlyExclusive, which had been growing via used jets, made its first order for new aircraft, agreeing to buy up to 30 Citation CJ3+ light jets from Textron. It plans an additional order for midsize Citation XLS+ jets later this year.
Last year, Airshare added Challenger 350s to its fleet of Phenom 300 and Phenom 100 aircraft with an order for up to 20 of the Bombardier jets.
Jet Edge, which agreed to be acquired by Vista Global, is in the process of adding over 35 super-midsize and large-cabin Challenger and Gulfstream aircraft it is buying on the pre-owned market and refurbishing.
At the end of 2021, Nicholas Air was the 12th largest operator in North America based on the fractional and charter flight hours. It offers an on-fleet jet card program and doesn’t sell one-off flights, so to access its fleet, you need to join one of several membership programs it offers.
“As you see with the struggle of the open fleet model, owning and operating aircraft matters more than ever,” said Nicholas Air President Peder von Harten.
He added the company would continue to announce new aircraft after being delivered. “There is always a lot of chatter in the industry about aircraft and who is ordering what. Someone can say they ordered a dozen aircraft, but that doesn’t mean they will actually take delivery of those jets. To have those airplanes, like our four new ones, actually on our ramp and ready to enter service for our members is what is most important.”