XO, one of the country’s largest private airlines, is developing its own custom fleet of charter aircraft by adding 15 light jet aircraft.
Starting today, the Cessna Citation Ultra will be available for hire directly through XO, providing members with more options when booking private jet travel and improving the company’s website to attract newcomers to private aviation.
The light aircraft will roam around the country as part of the 58-aircraft floating fleet model of 58 aircraft where the aircraft do not have a fixed home, saving members the costs of repositioning. They will initially be found flying on the East Coast, as well as in the Bahamas and some Caribbean countries, before expanding to the West Coast and some parts of Canada and Mexico..
Thomas Flohr, CEO of XO’s Vista Global, told Business Insider that the « phenomenal » membership growth since April nearly doubled since April has been a primary catalyst for expansion into the world of light aircraft.
Private aircraft companies across the United States, including XO, are reporting a faster-than-expected recovery from the pandemic centered on an increase in leisure travel, encouraging expansion for the largest companies.. In combination with XO’s existing fleet of ultra-large and long-range aircraft, the fleet of light aircraft will make the company a one-stop shop for a variety of aircraft..
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The move also strengthens XO’s appeal in capturing the new market by introducing entry-level light aircraft that are more cost effective than the super-large aircraft the company has traditionally used.. Newcomers often start out with renting light aircraft to learn about the industry and the perks of private aviation before moving on to the larger models.
The Ultra Jet is ideal for popular short trips in which there are too much large aircraft, such as between New York City and Massachusetts Islands or Los Angeles and Las Vegas. And since the plane is owned by XO, getting owner approval for short trips – a common problem in the world of charter aircraft where planes typically require the approval of their owners, and they are often wealthy – won’t be a problem..
The XO has a range of up to 1960 nautical miles, according to Jetcraft, and it can fly in city pairs like New York Palm Beach, Los Angeles-Dallas and Chicago-Phoenix without stopping for fuel, under the right conditions. Cessna produced the aircraft as part of the iconic Citation family from 1994 until the turn of the century, during which time it was named « Best Business Jet » by Flying Magazine, Jetcraft reported.. .
XO will be refurbishing the cabins and will soon include free WiFi on board. The company recently set out to revamp its fleet of super-sized Cessna Citation X and Bombardier Challenger 300 aircraft, which Business Insider toured in October, giving the aircraft a new paint job and interior improvements..
Light aircraft are often the ideal compromise who want the benefits of private aviation but do not need Gulfstream or Global Express every time they fly. Even before the pandemic, these types of light aircraft were popular because they are the least expensive to rent jet aircraft.
Smaller airports with shorter runways are also accessible for light jet aircraft compared to larger airplanes. And with service cuts to regional cities by major airlines, leisure and business travelers find themselves with fewer options when it comes to commercial aviation.
“We’ve looked at how the world has changed in the past 10 months since COVID hit and a lot of commercial infrastructure collapsed,” Flohr said.. “We have seen the demand for short-haul travel is essential and that many travelers who live abroad or work outside major flight hubs, face restrictions on going from A to B..
XO members always have access to light aircraft, as well as more than 2,100 aircraft through what the company calls the XO Fleet Alliance, but owning and operating them internally allows XO to offer a consistent product.
Members can also book private jet charter flights online or through a new XO app that gives users a guaranteed rental rate, eliminating the need to go through a third-party broker. The app also provides additional booking options that allow travelers to see different rates on different days because flexibility is the key to saving money while on rental.
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