Oxford Airport welcomes new charter company Fly Vectra

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Indian industrial conglomerate Vectra Group has made its foray into the business aviation market with the launch of a private jet charter company in the UK called Fly Vectra.

The London Oxford Airport-based venture, which received its aircraft operators certificate this month, will initially operate a Cessna Citation Excel. The seven-seat jet will be joined in May by a new eight-seat Cessna XLS+, and in early 2015 by a Citation Latitude. Fly Vectra will be the first UK operator of the midsize type.

"Our plan is move the Excel to a new base in Bratislava, Slovakia when the new aircraft arrives," said Fly Vectra chief executive Edward Noel. "The jet will be joined by a new VIP Eurocopter EC120B and these aircraft should help us to tap the growing charter market in central and eastern European charter."

Noel dismisses suggestions the UK charter market is struggling and demand for aircraft at the bottom half of the business jet spectrum is tight.

"The Excel is the most popular business aircraft in Europe so competition is always going to be high," he said. "Fly Vectra will be the only UK operator of the XLS+, which is straight off the manufacturing line. The current UK Excel fleet is over four years old."

Fly Vectra is building a "good list of direct clients", Noel insisted. These include large and small businesses, private individuals and air ambulance providers. "We are also looking to create marketing alliances with other European operators."

Fly Vectra plans to evaluate its fleet at the end of the year. "We may add a large-cabin aircraft at some stage - such as an Embraer Legacy 650 or a Bombardier Challenger 650 - to help widen our customer base," added Noel.

Fly Vectra is no stranger to general aviation. It operates the largest private helicopter fleet in India, with 40 types in service, and is also a Eurocopter distributor for the country.

"The group also owns a cargo airline, helicopter charter operation and a flight training school in Sri Lanka," said Noel.