Friday, September 28, 2012

Sky’s the limit for new Learjet

This is how the other half — or more accurately, the 1 percent — flies. 

No “cattle car” coach class with howling infants, coughing kids and the overwhelming smell of body odor and public bathrooms as you try to cram your knees into the space in front of you. Not even the rarefied air of first class.

With the Learjet 85 — manufactured by Bombardier, offered by Flexjet and ready to fly next year just in time for Learjet’s 50th anniversary — you fly in style whenever you want, but for a very hefty price.

The state-of-the-art private jet, or another from the Flexjet fleet, will be available at almost any U.S. airport on 12 hours’ notice to fly you and up to seven pals anywhere in the country.

But just 50 hours of flight time annually will cost you $1.1 million upfront plus an $11,255 monthly maintenance fee — and a $4,305 hourly fuel fee whenever you’re in the air.

After five years, Flexjet offers to buy back your fractional share at market price.

Are the little bags of peanuts free?

“We do offer peanuts, but much more than that,” Flexjet’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Bruce Peddle told the Herald. “We like to provide a solution for every requirement out there.”

Actually, the peanuts come warmed in a glass bowl. Or you can build your own omelet, try the cheese and crudite sampler, devour the cold garlic oregano grilled shrimp or the grilled beef tenderloin, top it off with chocolate-covered strawberries and wash it down with Cristal or Dom Perignon — for a little extra.

The Learjet 85, which tops 500 mph, is made of carbon-fiber composite and boasts the latest in avionics technology. Instead of a flight manual, the pilot can dial up any needed data on an iPad and a “synthetic vision” system digitizes the surroundings on liquid crystal displays so he or she can “see” outside in any weather condition.

The large passenger cabin offers the lucky “fractional” owner and friends HDTV monitors, XM satellite radio, Internet access and a single-channel iridium phone for that important call.

Peddle said the Learjet 85 can seat up to eight people comfortably and some planes in the Flexjet fleet can be outfitted with couches or other seating configurations.

“Our clients come in three main groups: high net-worth individuals, corporations that use them for executive transport and owners of Bombardier planes that use Flexjet for supplemental travel service,” Peddle said.

Tennis star Novak Djokovic is a spokesman for Learjet, but when it came to dropping the names of celebrity Flexjet customers, Peddle was mum.

“Our clients value their privacy, and Flexjet is about a relationship and a service,” he said.

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