Charter company JetSuite is aiming to become one the leading private jet operators in the USA within five years.
"We are a year away from setting up a base on the East Coast," says JetSuite founder and chief executive Alex Wilcox. "Our ultimate aim is to have bases within the major US cities including Texas [south central] and Chicago in the Midwest, which will give us coast-to-coast coverage."
The Long Beach, California-based company operates a fleet of seven Embraer Phenom 100 very light jets - including one managed aircraft - covering big metropolitan areas around Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Scottsdale in Arizona - and is scheduled to take delivery of six more of the VLJs by the end of the year.
"We have 64 Phenom 100 orders plus options that if exercised will take the fleet to 100 aircraft," says Wilcox, who is also a founding member of US carrier JetBlue Airways.
JetSuite Embraer Phenom 100 interior
He admits the recession has hampered JetSuite's growth. "We had originally planned to take delivery of one aircraft a month, but lack of market demand and available finance has resulted in our schedule being adjusted to one every two months for the time being," he says.
Wilcox says JetSuite intends to "stick" with the Phenom 100. "We want to be a national programme with a short-haul aircraft," he says. He does not rule out adding a larger-cabin aircraft at a later date to give customers a transcontinental option.
"With the Phenom 100 we are tooled for 80% of business flights, which are typically under 1,000nm [1,850km]. Around 90% of business flights carry fewer than five passengers. But if we were to add another type to the fleet - which is purely speculative at this stage - we would probably choose one of the Embraer family," says Wilcox.