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Month: May 2023

Will Banning Private Jets Help Our Planet?

Always a hot debate, the pros and cons of ‘flying private’ when it comes to environmental impact. We read this recent article and wanted to share it with you.

Gerald Walker from International Policy Digest – Reports

Climate activists from organizations such as Greenpeace, Stay Grounded, Extinction Rebellion, and Scientist Rebellion, took action last Tuesday to disrupt the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE), Europe’s largest private jet trade fair. Their aim was to draw attention to the significant carbon emissions produced by the aviation sector.

Dozens of protesters chained themselves to aircraft and the entrance gates of the event, which was held at Geneva Airport. By doing so, they sought to impede prospective buyers from entering the annual show and raise awareness about the environmental impact of private jets.

Due to their smaller size and typically lower passenger load, private jets tend to have a higher carbon footprint per passenger compared to large passenger aircraft. Private jets often operate with fewer passengers on board, meaning that the emissions generated are distributed among fewer individuals. As a result, the carbon emissions per passenger on a private jet tend to be higher.

On the other hand, large passenger aircraft have the advantage of carrying a larger number of passengers, resulting in a lower carbon footprint per passenger. The emissions produced by the aircraft are distributed among a greater number of individuals, reducing the carbon footprint for each passenger. Furthermore, large passenger aircraft are designed to be more fuel-efficient, utilizing advanced technologies and optimized flight paths to minimize fuel consumption and emissions.

The type of fuel used also plays a role in the carbon footprint. While both private and large passenger aircraft predominantly use aviation fuel, the specific composition and efficiency of the fuel can differ. Some large passenger aircraft may utilize more advanced and sustainable fuel options, such as biofuels or blended fuels, which can further reduce their carbon emissions.

Banning private jets has been a topic of debate when it comes to mitigating the environmental impact of air travel. Advocates for the ban argue that prohibiting private jets would significantly contribute to reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change. Private jets consume a substantial amount of fuel per passenger, resulting in higher greenhouse gas emissions. By eliminating private jets, the argument goes, we would decrease overall aviation emissions and promote a more sustainable future.

Proponents of the ban also point out the issue of inequality. Private jets are a symbol of extreme wealth and luxury, enabling a small fraction of the population to enjoy extravagant travel privileges while the majority must rely on commercial flights or alternative modes of transportation. The ban on private jets, they argue, would promote a more equitable society by leveling the playing field and redirecting resources towards more pressing societal needs, such as healthcare, education, and poverty alleviation.

On the other hand, opponents argue that banning private jets would not have a significant impact on the planet’s overall carbon emissions. They contend that private jets account for a relatively small portion of air travel emissions compared to commercial airlines. Instead of focusing on private jets, they suggest investing in technological advancements and improving the efficiency of aircraft across the board. This approach would allow for the reduction of emissions without completely eliminating private jet travel, which serves various purposes like business travel and medical emergencies.

Opponents also highlight the potential economic repercussions of banning private jets. The private aviation industry supports numerous jobs and generates substantial revenue through aircraft manufacturing, maintenance, and associated services. Banning private jets could lead to job losses and negatively impact businesses that rely on private jet operations. Furthermore, they argue that those who can afford private jets would simply switch to other means of transportation, such as commercial flights or larger private aircraft, which may not necessarily result in a net reduction in emissions.

In essence, the debate over banning private jets revolves around the trade-off between environmental benefits and potential economic consequences. While advocates argue that it would significantly reduce emissions and promote equality, opponents stress the need for more comprehensive solutions and argue against the potential negative impacts on jobs and the economy. Finding a balanced approach that addresses both environmental concerns and economic considerations remains a challenge in this ongoing debate.

As a company, Sentinel Aviation is committed to defining a long term sustainable future for the private aviation sector. We aim to be fully carbon neutral across our entire business by 2025 – reducing climate impact of our flying. We partner with Pelorus Foundation in support of their Climate Investment Funds which funds grassroots projects that balance carbon emissions. Our contributions to this fund demonstrate just one of our actions and commitment towards a future of sustainable travel.

To give the ongoing debate some perspective, a few months ago we shared an article titled “Four Times Private Jets Were Put to Good Use”. Worth a quick read.


Off to the Monaco Grand Prix in Style with Sentinel Aviation!

Another successful private jet charter departure for Sentinel Aviation. A group of 30 very excited clients left Farnborough for Monaco to watch the Grand Prix on Sunday. What better way to start the trip than flying private.  The aircraft is an Embraer ERJ135, seats 30, with a max speed of 825 km/h and reach of 3240 km.

Renowned for its durability and high dispatch rate, the ERJ-135 transports up to 30 passengers in a well-appointed, largest-in-class cabin that is also one of the quietest. Embraer’s philosophy of thinking differently has created an aircraft with wide-ranging appeal – and one that makes for an intelligent choice for fast, reliable and comfortable travel anywhere in the world. Durable, reliable and built specifically for lower demand markets, the ERJ135 delivers high performance, high speed and excellent range capacity to open new routes.

The aircraft shares 98% parts and systems commonality, as well as crew rating, with the other members of the ERJ-135 / 140 / 145 family. The aircraft has a circular cross section fuselage, rear mounted high by-pass ratio engines, low mounted swept wings and a T-tailplane. The wings are of two spar wing design with a third spar to support the landing gear. The wing leading edges are made of aluminium.

The cockpit is fitted with an all-glass Honeywell Primus 1000 digital avionics suite with dual digital air data computers, dual attitude, heading and reference system (AHRS), a traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) and a ground proximity warning system (GPWS).

The aircraft has two rear-mounted Rolls-Royce engines mounted on pylons, supplied by Sonaca of Belgium. International Nacelle Systems supplies the engine nacelles and the optional clamshell thrust reversers. The engines are fitted with full authority digital engine control and the engine air intakes are fitted with an engine bleed air anti-icing system.

Thanks again for all involved. As always, we truly appreciate all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

If you’re planning a trip, whether for business or pleasure, why not let Sentinel Aviation help you get there. Our private charter team will ensure a seamless door-to-door service, meticulously planned and overseen from inception until well after landing.

Contact us Now

Jet Aviation Brings Art Deco to the ACJ

Kerry Lynch from AINonline – Reports

Jet Aviation recently handed over an Airbus ACJ319neo with a hand-crafted contemporary Art Deco interior. Installed at its facility in Basel, Switzerland, Jet Aviation said the interior was created through a close collaboration between its design studio, the undisclosed customer, and interior architect Colin Radcliffe.

The interior sports a monochrome palette with dark woods and tiling that is contrasted with beige and gold upholstery finishes. Jet Aviation incorporated complete details such as a bulk designed with a “sunburst” marquetry that features more than 180 “rays” of light and dark veneers and is separated by three-millimeter brass inlays. Jet Aviation noted that each piece was individually hand placed and manipulated for a seamless finish.

“Every interior we create is completely bespoke, hand-crafted by our team of some 200 skilled artisans in Basel, Switzerland,” says Christoph Fondalinski, v-p of completions at Jet Aviation. “This particular design featured incredibly beautiful and complex detailing throughout, such as the statement ‘sunburst’ veneer marquetry bulkhead in the living area, delicate open-pore walnut veneer, and a custom-dyed ombre carpet.”

The cabin was designed with living and dining space fitted with “wingback” seating and sofa areas, a separate office with embroidered wall finishings, and an ensuite bedroom with a bathroom styled in golden black marble and beige onyx.

Images courtesy of Jet Aviation

Gulfstream G800 Private Jet at EBACE for its Continental Debut

Ian Molyneaux from the Aerotime HUB – Reports

The all-new ultralong-range Gulfstream G800 has made its continental debut, arriving in Geneva for the 2023 European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE2023).

The aircraft, the first G800 flight test article, flew from Savannah to Geneva using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

One of fastest private jets in existence, the aircraft is powered by high-thrust Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines and is capable of reaching Mach 0.925. In tests the Gulfstream jet has flown for 8,000 nautical miles/14,816 kilometers at Mach 0.85 and 7,000 nm/12,964 km at Mach 0.90.

“By flying the G800 test aircraft to EBACE2023 this year, we are demonstrating the maturity of this program. The G800 presents a compelling combination of high-speed aerodynamics and fuel-efficient engines to decrease emissions and save flying time for our customers,” said Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream.

He added: “Equipped with our latest advancements in technology and innovation, the G800 adds the industry’s longest range to our aircraft portfolio. We are pleased to display a Gulfstream for every mission in Geneva.”

The G800 also features the Gulfstream Symmetry Flight Deck with active control sidesticks and the most extensive use of touch-screen technology in the industry. The G800 will be on display at EBACE2023, alongside the Gulfstream G280, the Gulfstream G500, the Gulfstream G600, the Gulfstream G650ER and the Gulfstream G700.

The Gulfstream G800 is currently in development but it could be as soon as 2024 that this private jet is introduced.


Europe’s Business Jet Industry Aims for Green Rebrand

By Joanna Plucinska from Reuters – Reports

Europe’s business jet sector is putting its greenest foot forward at its flagship annual conference this week as it faces a downturn in flights on the back of commercial aviation’s rebound and growing pressure to become more sustainable.

The European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE), hosted in Geneva, kicks off on Tuesday 23rd May and brings together everyone from brokers, planemakers to engine producers.

Many have come under harsh scrutiny in Europe for their role in an industry seen as producing outsized emissions for global elites. CO2 emissions from private jets in Europe grew by 31% between 2005 and 2019, according to environmental group Transport and Environment.

Pressure on the industry is increasing both from European regulators, who are keen to advance their green agenda, and also from activists who have targeted the sector in protests at airports, sector specialists said. Protesters are expected to gather on Tuesday outside the conference location in Geneva to highlight the rising number of private jet flights amidst a worsening global climate crisis. Consumers are also trying to limit their impact.

“You do see many more clients nowadays asking their operators, can I get sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), can we offer an offset in the flight,” said Roman Kok, a spokesperson for the European Business Aviation Association, one of the event organisers.

“There are more and more questions asked as to how sustainable their flights are.”

The conference will look to strike a positive note by showcasing innovations in the sector, with a particular focus on areas like electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) and sustainable aviation fuel, which emits much less carbon than traditional jet fuel.

“The big innovations are usually deployed first in our industry,” Kok said. “And later, they are then deployed with larger commercial aviation. It’s the nature of our aircraft – they’re smaller, it’s easier.”

The sector has also been buffeted by Europe’s broader economic troubles, with many potential customers wary of spending money to buy or charter private jets, which are seen as a luxury rather than a necessity.

“The post-COVID macroeconomic environment has significantly darkened: supply chain issues, inflation, higher interest rates, geopolitical conflict and tension,” said Richard Koe, CEO of WINGX, a market intelligence firm focused on business aviation.

Business jet flights have dropped in Europe by around 6% compared with the same time in 2022, WINGX data showed. Immediately after the pandemic, business aviation rebounded faster than commercial air travel, swelling planemakers’ order books as more wealthy travelers flew on private jets to avoid crowded airports and connecting flights. But rising interest rates and economic pressures are raising questions over continued demand for private planes, even as corporate aircraft makers boost production in 2023.

“You immediately see that when the economy doesn’t grow as much, there’s a parallel with our industry. So that’s for us the biggest indicator of why we’re not growing as we were in 2017, 2018,” Kok said.


Sentinel private jet charter departs Farnborough

Another successful Sentinel Aviation private jet charter has departed from Farnborough.

The Airbus Corporate Jet is the A320neo. With a cruising speed of 840kmh (522mph) and a range of 6300km (3400nm, the NEO (New Engine Option)is the latest upgrade introduced by Airbus. The new advanced engines provide outstanding operational and environmental performance, while the new wingtips (Airbus call them Sharklets) alone reduce fuel burn by 4% – that equates to an annual reduction of about 900 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

And the interior is quite stunning.

Quality and luxury
Whether travelling for pleasure or on business, from the moment you join us on board you can expect an unrivalled experience for up to 12 hours flight time.

Attention to detail
The elegant and spacious interior features an exquisite blend of furniture, materials, fittings and mood lighting evokes a sense of wellbeing whilst the palette of warm browns and soft beiges sets a new standard in terms of luxury, quality and comfort.

Stay connected inflight through our 19 individual iPads and four large TV screens in the cabin.

Space and comfort
The ACJ320neo redefines large cabin corporate jet standards into the 2020s. The spaces onboard include an open-plan forward lounge and an intimate rear lounge, separated by a mid-cabin conference/dining area.

At the rear of the aircraft is a private master bedroom with a king-size bed, as well as a luxurious en-suite bathroom featuring a large rectangular shower. The perfect space for 19 passengers to move about the cabin freely, arriving refreshed and relaxed at their destination.

Entertain in style
A full galley enables our cabin crew to offer freshly prepared meals in flight. Whether you prefer an intimate dinner or want to entertain guests with a banquet-style meal, our menus guarantee that only the finest locally sourced ingredients are used.

As always, a big thank you to all involved. There’s lots of variables when organising an all-encompassing private jet charter service, whatever the size of the plane – from crewing and logistics to communication and meticulous planning; and all with the utmost discretion expected of us by our valued clients!

If you’re planning a business trip, why not let Sentinel Aviation help you get there.

Our private charter team will ensure a seamless door-to-door service, meticulously planned and overseen from inception until well after landing.

Contact Us Today

Sentinel Aviation Top Ten Picks for Wellness Travel Destinations

The team at Sentinel Aviation were recently chatting about their holiday plans for the year and next. It suddenly struck us all (young and old!) that our ideas and dreams of the ultimate holiday have totally changed! The action packed, food and drink fuelled destinations have been replaced with trips rooted in relaxation, self-improvement and mental wellbeing. And therapy offerings don’t have to be boring. The newly opened Aman New York offers you a a cognitive health scan by day, and dining on some stellar Italian food and then a show at the hotel’s jazz club at night.

So we all went away and researched/reviewed a variety of national and international wellness destinations and concepts.

We’d like to share with you our Top Ten Favourites.

1/ Hiking Trails around Europe

Conde Nast Traveler report on the top seven prettiest spots to go hiking, and we chose the one from England:

The South West Coast Path, England: Cornwall has an unusual microclimate that means there are many more sunny days in October and November than you would expect. The South West Coast Path runs for 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset along the coastlines of Exmoor, North Devon, and Cornwall, before crossing the mouth of the River Tamar where it enters Devon and crosses part of Dorset before ending in Poole Harbour. The route was originally created when patrols kept watch for smugglers. The area has been inhabited, however, since the Iron Age, and a number of important archaeological sites can be found along the path, as well as breathtaking views.

To review all of those selected by CN Traveller, please click here.

2/ Soak, Steam, Sweat and Socialise

Scandinavians believe stress melts away faster if you socialise while sweating. The rest of the world is catching on by building sauna and hydrotherapy complexes with restaurants, bars, and even live music.

Alyeska Resort’s Nordic Spa in Alaska is the newest ‘go-to destination to seek refuge from the demands of the modern world’. It features a pool circuit of steamy 103-degree pools and polar plunges, a Himalayan rock salt sauna, Russian banyas, and cedar soaking tubs and barrel saunas; open until 9pm with an onsite bar and restaurant, it’s certain to be this winter’s hottest après ski scene. As they say: “Hot. Cold. Rest. Repeat!” Click here to visit the hotel’s website.

3/ Wild Swimming

The health benefits of cold water swimming have long been suspected, from Victorians gathering in their bathing machines to the lido boom of the early twentieth century. Now science is starting to back up the anecdotal evidence with studies that suggest that there are lasting positive effects of a bracing outdoor dip.

Our favourite was a Slovenian Lake Swimming Holiday. Slovenia doesn’t have much coastline, but it does boast spectacular green, glacial lakes and meandering rivers — backdropped dramatically by soaring forested mountains. It’s hard to imagine a more pristine setting for a four-day group swimming break, taking you from the shores of famed Lake Bled, with its utterly photogenic island church (you’ll swim there), to the frothy Kozjak waterfall for an unconventional cooldown. On the last day, you’ll tackle a swim across Lake Bohinj, a glassy expanse with crystalline waters.

4/ Hot Spring Spas and Resorts

There were a number of great hot springs, a lot of them concentrated in the American West, and our favourite was Quinn’s Hot Springs in Montana.

They have five 100% natural flow through hot springs pools offering a variety of inviting temperatures that range from 100 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit, including a cold plunge at 55 degrees. Two additional pools that are salt treated and maintained in the upper 90’s to 100 degrees to allow swimmers of all ages. Natural springs like these offer a range of health and heart benefits. Click here to visit the hotel’s website.

5/ Forest Bathing

Yes, it’s such a thing, and it’s big in Japan, even recognised by the Japanese government. Known as ‘shinrin-yoku’, it rejuvenates mind, body and soul – decreases stress, natural mood elevation and even a stronger immune system. Our favourite was Keihoku, northern Kyoto. In this northern part of Kyoto you will find Japanese cedars and cypresses and an air of serenity, with glimpses of mountains beyond. This area is just over an hour out of town, and still considered part of Kyoto city. A tranquil woodland in a stunning mountainous region it’s a great place for a farm stay or back to nature exploring.We found this excellent website with more information.

6/ High-Tech Wellness Retreats

Palazzo Fiuggi in Italy was the best by far. The week-long Complete Life Rewind programme at Palazzo Fiuggi – a beautiful building set within expansive private grounds overlooking the mediaeval Italian spa town of Fiuggi – combines a multitude of tests, treatments and therapies to achieve just that. Visit the hotel’s website.

7/ Mindful Movement

The modern mantra, “sitting is the new smoking,” has made many wellness experts rethink the traditional path to mindfulness: stillness. The latest meditative activities are set in movement.

In the Maldives, the wellness retreat Joali Being has even made the sound bathing experience a walking journey through a jungle path lined with 12 instruments that create different vibrations. Visit the hotel’s website.

8/ Arts and Crafts

Sounds a little odd, but silent meditation sessions aren’t the only pathway to mindfulness. More spa resorts are challenging guests to be in the present by working the right side of their brains in fresh ways.

Atelier d’Artiste, a new glass-panelled artist studio at Royal Mansour, a grand riad hotel in Marrakech, offers guests the opportunity to be tutored in pottery, weaving, beading, and more by top master craftsmen. You may roll your eyes, but two screen-free hours spent crafting Berber-inspired necklaces rivals the relaxation you feel after a yoga class. To visit the hotel’s website please click here.

9/ Restore and Recover

In Napa Valley, the restoration and recovery circuit at Springhouse at Stanly Ranch, an Auberge Resort Collection, can cure everything from hiking-weary muscles to a hangover with therapies like a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and lymphatic system-supporting salt room. To visit the resort’s website please click here.

10/ Family Wellness

Easier said than done, but you shouldn’t need to separate family holidays with dedicating time for your personal wellbeing. From building family bonds through mindful or sporty activities, such as surfing and hiking, to finding a dedicated wellness retreat that welcomes children of all ages, we loved the retreat at Palmaia in Mexico. It’s a transformative retreat that encourages you to discover wellness through its progressive and unique all-inclusive programmes and meaningful experiences. Within the resort’s holistic approach is Awen, a nurturing space where children can explore creativity, spirituality, and curiosity. To visit the retreat’s website please click here.

We hope you have enjoyed our selection of Wellness Travel Destinations. Why don’t you begin your wellness journey with Sentinel Aviation. What better way to start and finish with a private jet charter? If you have a wellness trip in mind, our team are waiting to hear from you. Contact us to learn more about our private air charter service.


The Debt-fuelled Ascent of Thomas Flohr’s VistaJet

Dan McCrum from the FT – Reports

Lossmaking airline’s founder has become an aviation superstar as his company amassed a fleet of luxury aircraft. To many, Thomas Flohr is a genius who took one look at the private jet industry and thought he could do better.

A self-described “asset finance guy”, he started as a first-time jet owner trying to “sweat the asset” and VistaJet was born. Nineteen years later, with hundreds of aircraft, the 63-year-old is an aviation superstar taking on the market leader, Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets, through audacious dealmaking and bold investment.

The question mark hanging over the Swiss entrepreneur’s strategy is whether Vista can turn a profit and support the debt he used to build it. Net losses amounted to $436mn over the past four years, according to company disclosures to bond investors. Total debt more than doubled last year to $4.4bn as Vista’s fleet increased by half to 360 jets, helped by the acquisitions of Air Hamburg, Europe’s largest charter operator, and US-based Jet Edge.

It has also spent billions of dollars on top-of-the-line planes from Bombardier, deliveries that were essential to the Canadian manufacturer through years of government-backed restructuring.

Vista’s pitch to customers of its so-called Jet Card is a superior experience, without the inconvenience or expense of maintaining a luxury asset that spends most of its life on the ground. “We’re able to sell a guaranteed-availability model,” Flohr told the Financial Times at his Mayfair sales office, adding that the 365-days-a-year coverage “is better than aircraft ownership”.

Vista’s fleet is scattered around the globe like an elite taxi service ready to pick up the next fare. With as little as 24 hours’ notice, customers can travel in one of the Dubai-based company’s 18 Bombardier Global 7500s, the world’s fastest business jet able to fly nonstop from Hong Kong to New York.

Subscription sales have supported cash flows. At the end of 2022, customers had paid a total of $831mn up front for hours yet to be flown, but Vista had only $134mn cash left in the bank, according to company disclosures.

The combination of debt, net losses and short-term liabilities prompted auditor EY to warn in its opinion on the 2022 accounts that “a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the group’s ability to continue as a going concern”.

German aviation regulator the LBA also raised the issue of cash liquidity at Air Hamburg following the takeover at a regular inspection in March, according to people familiar with the situation. Vista said it had agreed a plan of action and resolved the matter by the end of the quarter. The LBA declined to comment.

EY’s assessment, disclosed in a prospectus this month as Vista raised a new $500mn unsecured bond, echoed questions from some industry rivals about Flohr’s rapid expansion. A crash under the weight of debt could potentially dump hundreds of jets on to the market, hand substantial losses to Vista’s well-heeled customers and upend the market for aircraft finance. EY declined to comment.

Flohr said the business was highly profitable on an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation basis, and that net losses were a consequence of conservative accounting of non-cash items such as depreciation.

Stakeholders were happy with Vista’s cash flow and financial performance, he said, and pointed to Vista’s B3 credit rating: “Moody’s upgraded our bond, after deep studies, including the recent audit, because we’re transparent and predictable as a company.”

A B3 rating indicates debt judged “speculative” and subject to “high credit risk”. Moody’s changed its outlook on Vista to “positive” from “stable”, reflecting potential for “performance and leverage improvements”; the rating reflected Vista’s “strong position” in the industry, “significant contracted revenue from a diversified customer base; and high aircraft utilisation rates”, balanced by Vista’s “high leverage”. On Moody’s calculations, debt last year stood at 7.6 times adjusted ebitda of $576mn.

Uncharted territory
Vista’s fortunes have been closely tied to those of Bombardier, which sold off units to focus on the business jet market after its 2016 state rescue, and the Canadian government’s support of Vista’s expansion.

Canada’s Export Development Corporation finances up to 85 per cent of the net purchase price of Bombardier jets and is the largest lender on the Global 7500 aircraft. EDC disclosures indicate that it has lent between $500mn and $750mn to Vista.

“Vista were massively important,” said a person involved in financing the aircraft manufacturer’s sales. “They were the number-one customer for the longest time, they were probably one of the reasons why Bombardier decided to build the Global 7500.”

Bombardier declined to comment on specific transactions. It said VistaJet was “a longtime Bombardier customer, and we are proud that the company operates a great number of Bombardier business aircraft in its fleet”.

The 7500, and Vista’s 43 aircraft capable of flying across the world, such as the Global 6000, are prestige planes. The charter operators with which it competes are primarily regional businesses and typically either manage aircraft for rich owners or buy second hand — cheap cast-offs acquired when oligarchs or executives at a big business decide to upgrade.

“It’s a very high-, hard-cost industry. The money that is being made is on lean margins,” said one US operator.

John Matthews, a longtime rival to Flohr who runs Maltese charter firm AirX, said jet customers could be surprisingly frugal, taking unfinished bottles of wine with them at the end of flights that cost more than $10,000 an hour. “Aside from people in tech and third-generation heirs, the world’s super-rich are surprisingly cost-conscious,” he added. “A lot of older billionaires worked bloody hard for their money.”

US-focused NetJets flies new aircraft only on a “fractional ownership” basis. Customers, rather than the company, commit capital to buy the jets in return for a share in their use, and are locked into long-term contracts.

At this month’s annual meeting for Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, chair Warren Buffett criticised Wheels Up, a US Jet Card competitor backed by Delta Air Lines that has reported widening losses since it listed in July 2021. “They’ve got 12,600 people who have given them $1bn . . . I think there’s a good chance some people will be very disappointed later on,” Buffett said. Wheels Up said it was “not considering bankruptcy”, was taking action to address its cash position and the long-term prospects for its business were strong.

Vista’s Jet Card customers sign three-year contracts that do not normally allow refunds. Last year the balance of “flight hours sold but not yet flown” increased by $179mn. Flohr said the variable cost to Vista of flying those hours was a small fraction of the $831mn liability recorded on its balance sheet.

His recent dealmaking, however, has made Vista more like a standard charter operator. It now manages 87 aircraft for owners, and more than half of Vista’s $2.4bn of sales last year were “on demand” aircraft charters.

One broker who works with Vista said that “charter rates, especially for long-range aircraft, are through the floor. It’s a race to the bottom.”

Vista said it had always balanced its programme with charter sales, and that the ability to sell otherwise empty “dead legs” as jets move between jobs, or flights at times of slack demand, was “a strength of the business model”.

Flohr said Vista’s takeovers last year were a response to very strong demand, and that the company starts the year with 100,000 hours already sold. “We’re consolidating the market. Those hours were flown by the mom and pop shops, and they don’t like it.”

Several former employees praised Flohr’s financial acumen. The group survived a period in 2017 when concerns about the outlook caused its bond debt to trade at distressed prices. Flohr secured a $200mn investment from New York-based private equity firm Rhône Capital at a $2.5bn-plus equity valuation that restored market confidence and marked him out as a billionaire.

Trading planes
Next month Flohr will drive for a Ferrari team at the Le Mans 24-hour race in a car emblazoned with the VistaJet logo, a hobby that helps market his company as an exclusive club for the super-rich.

He also lives the brand. To reach St Moritz, where he has a seven-storey home and keeps a collection of rally cars, Flohr lands in Milan on a silver VistaJet then transfers to the Alps in a company helicopter.

An unusual aspect of Vista’s growth is Flohr’s role as a middleman in its aircraft purchases. Bond prospectuses and annual accounts for Vista detail multiple related-party arrangements with companies controlled by Flohr that were involved in aircraft trading.

One effect of these transactions was to offset the cost of personal use of the jets by Flohr, who as chair and 84 per cent shareholder has not taken any salary or dividends and pays for his own travel — Vista recorded an average $7mn of annual flight revenue from its founder over the past six years.

For instance, Flohr personally ordered more than 30 Global 7500s from Bombardier in 2015. In 2018 he then sold call options against 30 aircraft to an entity called Vista Lease, for $19.5mn. Vista Lease was then purchased from “associates of Flohr” by Vista Global, the airline holding company.

Terms of the Vista Lease purchase entitled Flohr to $1mn each time Vista exercised one of the 30 options and further “true up” payments of $7.1mn to $12.6mn per plane to reflect a rise in the value of the aircraft since the orders were placed. Vista disclosures indicate the initial purchase price of each jet was about $60mn.

Vista, and its supporters, said Flohr took a big personal risk by placing firm orders for aircraft when his company did not have the resources to do so, and that Rhône Capital approved all related-party transactions. Money flowed in both directions: Flohr paid Vista $90mn over 2021 and 2022 for the cancellation of aircraft put options, recorded as “other operating income”. Rhône Capital declined to comment.

The use of outside entities owned by Flohr was questioned by some former Vista employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Why not just consolidate everything?” asked one.

For the 18 Global 7500s delivered in the past two years, Vista disclosed that included in the cost of the aircraft was $224mn “paid or credited” to Flohr. The remaining 12 options were cancelled. In 2021 Flohr also sold two aircraft to Vista, for $93.2mn, which he had previously leased to the company.

A Global 7500 is worth about $75mn today, said Steve Varsano, founder of The Jet Business, a business aviation showroom in London, but he cautioned that prices could drop should there be an influx of supply. “If you have 12 Global 6000s for sale and all of a sudden you have five come on the market, that’s a big deal.” He said there were only four or five Global 7500s available. “It’s the top, top of the market. It gets pretty thin up in the atmosphere up there.”

Flohr insisted that “if the company bought an aeroplane from me, then they paid the market price for it . . . Whatever I have given the company or the company has given to me is never more than the difference between cost and market value.

“For 19 years I’ve never taken $1 for salary. No wonder I’ve reinvested every single dollar this company made.”

Additional reporting by Robert Smith in London and Eric Platt in New York


Top 20 Spa Hotels in the UK for a Wellness Weekend

Could there be anything better on a crisp winter evening than sliding into a hot pool? Start off 2023 with one of these rejuvenating escapes

Suzanne Duckett from The Telegraph – Reports

You used to have to travel far and wide to find the real-deal spas, the temples dedicated to mind and body sprawling over several floors, the Ayurvedic ‘journeys’, the outdoor thermal spa villages and hydrotherapy suites you can spend hours in emerging the other side, reborn.

Not anymore. After a quick car or train journey you can find yourself floating on your back in an outdoor pool looking up at the sky before hot footing it inside to the toasty sauna. You can flip flop between impressive indoor-outdoor hydrotherapy pools, swim through open-air infinity pools with views onto surrounding English parkland. You can go subterranean to be slathered in rejuvenating, mineral-rich Scottish seaweed or even take a bath in the stuff flown in daily from the Hebrides.

Yes, spa breaks in this country are easier than ever to book. Whether that’s for a spa day in London, or a weekend spa break in the Lake District or the Cotswolds, here’s our pick of the best spa hotels in the UK.

Beaverbrook, Surrey, England
9 Telegraph expert rating

Beaverbrook might date back to 1866 but it certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously – as evidenced in its spa which was designed by Brian Clarke in a refreshing riot of colour. There are six treatment rooms all designed by Clarke and based on a different flower found on the estate, with experiences ranging from the classic (the Relaxation massage delivers exactly what it promises) to the more ‘out-there’ choices including a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber, and intravenous ‘infusions’. If weather permits, the checkerboard-bottomed outdoor pool is the place to be; overlooking this is the indoor pool. The thermal suite has a whirlpool, steam room and sauna.

The Gainsborough Bath Spa, Bath, Somerset, England
9 Telegraph expert rating

Thermal waters are the draw at The Gainsborough (it’s the only hotel spa in Bath with direct access to them) and its Romanesque Spa Village is quite something. There are three substantial pools in which to wallow – the largest set under a glass-roofed atrium – as well as saunas and a steam room and 11 treatment rooms offering a wide range of massages and Asian‑influenced therapies. All guests can book a complimentary Bath House experience at the Spa Village (with access to the natural thermal pools) between 9am-5pm.

Calcot & Spa, Tetbury, Cotswolds, England
9 Telegraph expert rating

The sprawling and spacious spa complements this extensive country house retreat – all dreamy cream furnishings, soft sofas and crackling fires – with its seven relaxing treatment rooms, heated outdoor hot tub, indoor slate-lined pool and large outdoor pool. Children are welcome in the spa here at generous set times, but they also have four hours a day in the childcare provided ‘Play Barn’ so a perfect chance to have some peaceful spa time. Treatments include an Aromatherapy Associates Immune Support boost massage which uses a blend of essential oils of tea tree, eucalyptus and pine to provide relief and support a healthy immune system; ELEMIS facials and massages; and CACI cosmetic experiences.

Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Lake Windermere, Lake District, England
9 Telegraph expert rating

Gilpin Hotel & Lake House is firmly in the indulgent break category. Set beside a wooded private lake, its swanky private Spa Suites offer cosseting boutique hotel luxury combined with stress-busting seclusion. Each cedar-clad cabin is 6ft above ground for show-stopping views across the Lake District fells. There are log fires, state-of-the-art music systems and sitting rooms that convert into treatment rooms for massages à deux. Upping the spa game are the five Spa Lodges which feature private walled gardens with a hot tub, steam room, sauna and separate treatment room equipped with infrared lounge beds and a massage chair. Gilpin Lake House, for groups of up to 12, has spa facilities and an indoor pool.

Soho Farmhouse, Chipping Norton, Cotswolds, England
9 Telegraph expert rating

Created by the Soho House group, this is not your standard rural retreat: a boutique hotel meets Canadian wilderness cabin meets American country club. What was once a derelict farm has been transformed with some 40 reclaimed timber cabins flanking four man-made lakes and the original 18th-century farmhouse buildings. The facilities are without peer – from the Cowshed spa with sauna, hammam, hot tubs and a broad range of treatments, to the luxurious cinema, cookery school and spacious gym and spinning studio. Add to this an indoor and outdoor pool, boating lake, tennis courts, football pitch, horse riding and the outstanding “Teeny Barn” kids’ club.

Cliveden, Taplow, Berkshire, England
9 Telegraph expert rating

There are country house hotels – and then there’s Cliveden. The National Trust property’s spa is set around its listed, heated outdoor pool – the spot where John Profumo notoriously first met Christine Keeler – which is edged by lawn, lined by sun loungers and overlooked by two hot tubs. Yet more loungers look out into the garden from behind glass, with every other day bed separated by a floor-to-ceiling curtain. Past that, a collonaded, marble room is home to the heated indoor pool, whirlpool tub, steam room and infrared sauna.

The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perth and Kinross, Scotland
9 Telegraph expert rating

Set in one of the Highlands’ prettiest locations, Gleneagles’ spa is known for its crack team of practitioners who nudge you back into wellness via tailored diet, fitness and lifestyle programmes. The range of treatments cover every conceivable face and body treatment; go for The Long Exhale, a two-hour massage that involves a foot scrub using a mixture of honey, salt and heather seeds followed by a full body massage. With saunas, steam rooms, hydrotherapy vitality pool and superb relaxation areas, you may never want to leave. Dogs are very welcome here and will be provided with a dog bed, foam duvet, plastic floor mats with two bowls and a poop scoop set (there’s even on site kennels if you would prefer).

Lucknam Park, Colerne
8 Telegraph expert rating

The state-of-the-art spa, cut from polished cream stone, complements the elegant Georgian mansion and its extensive surroundings. You can easily spend a whole day there, luxuriating in an indoor pool embellished by a panel of flickering fire, an array of thermal suites (including a Japanese salt steam room, jasmine-scented amethyst room, a eucalyptus-infused steam room, a tepidarium and a sauna); and eight therapy rooms. The indoor-outdoor hydrotherapy pool allows dippers to swim through to an open-air infinity pool with views onto the surrounding parkland and arboretum. There’s also a private outdoor area with saltwater plunge pool for those having treatments.

Kimpton Blythswood Square, Glasgow, Scotland
8 Telegraph expert rating

You will find this modern, funky, and oh-so quiet spa deep below the hotel, which is located in a prime, tranquil site overlooking a leafy square in Glasgow city centre. Many of the marvellous treatments are based around mineral-rich Scottish seaweed – you can steam, swim or relax in a bath of the stuff flown in daily from the Hebrides – like ishga (Gaelic for ‘water’) skincare, which makes its products using antioxidant-rich organic seaweed and natural spring water from the Isle of Lewis. Hotel guests get complimentary access to the Thermal Experience; a circuit of wet and dry, warm and cold rooms.

Galgorm Resort & Spa, Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
8 Telegraph expert rating

During Galgorm’s Celtic Sauna Ritual (spa circuit) there’s a choice of things to admire – from the picturesque grounds through the sauna window, to the staff wafting oil-infused steam around the room with a towel – while participants simply sit and inhale. The outdoor thermal Spa Village is a watery wonderland (do pack your swimming gear). It has a large pool (with a polished pebble floor to massage pressure points in your feet), indoor and outdoor thermal spa pools, an ice room where you can slather shards of ice over yourself post-sauna, or soak in one of five log-fired hot tubs dotted along the riverside.

Dormy House, Broadway, Cotswolds, England
9 Telegraph expert rating

This handsome haven of comfort and wellbeing is above pretty Broadway on the north western edge of the Cotswolds. Sprawling over several floors, the Scandinavian-chic House Spa leads directly off the reception lobby, so you are in no doubt that it’s centre stage at this ‘reinvented rustic’ country house hotel. Facilities are glorious, with a lavender sauna, salt-infusion steam room, infinity pool, hot tub outside and a gym for workouts, classes and personal training sessions. Treatments are from prestigious brand Tata Harper, Beata and Temple Spa.

Lime Wood, New Forest, Hampshire, England
8 Telegraph expert rating

This is the kind of place you go to feel pampered, and you won’t be disappointed. The sybaritic spa at this refined country house in the heart of the New Forest is encased in glass and surrounded by greenery. There’s an outdoor hot pool, indoor lap pool and hydrotherapy suite. An impressive treatment list includes relaxing Bamford massages and facials alongside complexion-improving Sarah Chapman skincare treatments (think microneedling and LED light therapy). Enjoy the spa, take a core class on the roof terrace, ramble through woodland, and then indulge in unfussy hearty fare at Hartnett Holder & Co.

Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey, England
9 Telegraph expert rating

Daily life at this luxury country house hotel revolves around its exquisite Michelin-starred dining and an impressive spa featuring no fewer than eight indoor and outdoor pools (one even has soothing underwater music and fibre optic lighting) and a Roman-style suite of heat rooms. There are also several hot tubs, herbal saunas and steam rooms, plus myriad natural and organic treatments designed to detox, cleanse and relax. And the heated ceramic relaxation beds, shaped to the body’s contours, are almost impossible to leave. Champagne served in and around the pools adds a touch of luxury.

The Scarlet, Mawgan Porth, England
9 Telegraph expert rating

In the airy, multilevel, environmentally friendly Scarlet, the feeling is one of intense relaxation. The womblike spa specialises in Ayurvedic ‘journeys’, with tented treatment rooms and pods suspended in the dark for ‘deep relaxation’ and an all-glass sea-facing roof for ‘light relaxation’. There’s a reed-fringed, rock-strewn outdoor pool which extends from the indoor one, punctuated by two bright scarlet wood-fired hot tubs perched between boulders overlooking the sea. There are also numerous wide terraces with perfectly positioned loungers to soak up the views.

Chewton Glen Hotel, New Forest, Hampshire, England
8 Telegraph expert rating

Combining old-school, classic elegance and impressive grandeur with a contemporary, holistic approach, Chewton Glen is a place of many parts, all of them wholeheartedly luxurious. Its world-class spa is said to have one of Europe’s largest hydrotherapy pools, near which guests will find an indoor pool lined with blue mosaic tiles and surrounded by Grecian columns, aromatherapy saunas, crystal steam rooms, a long menu of treatments with experienced therapists, plus an outdoor hot tub and swimming pool. The spa’s café serves a healthy buffet where guests can eat in robes and slippers.

Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa, Cuckfield, West Sussex, England
8 Telegraph expert rating

The contemporary spa makes a startling contrast to the Elizabethan manor: an uncompromisingly modern building with a spectacular box-like exterior and an airy and natural interior. The pool has swim-through access to the outdoors; there are whirlpool tubs inside and out; plus a steam room, sauna, rainforest showers and a rather hot lounge area. Opt for a good de-stressing treatment combining a Thai herbal poultice massage and facial, rounded off with quality Sussex-made chocolates and sparkling wine. For the full overnight spa experience, book a modern spa suite above the pool.

Whatley Manor, Malmesbury, Cotswolds, England
8 Telegraph expert rating

For a super-spoiling weekend, head to this restored 19th-century country manor with tranquil gardens, an ivy-clad entrance, wood panelling and Persian rugs. An extensive spa is open to all adult guests and offers a hydrotherapy pool with massaging jets overlooking fields, aromatic thermal suites, a sauna and a range of innovative treatments and facials that take place in an oxygen tent. Massages feature Ila products, using ingredients wild-harvested from remote, untainted regions far and wide (Morocco, the Himalayas) but blended and bottled 50 miles away.

Rudding Park Hotel & Spa, Follifoot, Yorkshire, England
8 Telegraph expert rating

One of Harrogate’s health-giving natural springs feeds directly into Rudding Park’s award-winning rooftop spa and garden, which impresses with myriad facilities including herb-infused saunas and steam rooms, experience showers, and an outdoor hydrotherapy pool where couples and groups can be seen wallowing on hydro beds as they quaff generous amounts of sparkling wine. The relaxation rooms include a dark sleep room, a mindful room with colouring books, a screen room depicting scenes of dramatic landscapes, and an audio room with meditative soundtracks. Note that only bookings in a Suite or Spa Room get complimentary full access to the rooftop spa garden.

Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa, Salcombe, Devon, England
9 Telegraph expert rating

The view from your balcony at this contemporary waterside spa hotel in Salcombe winds you down even before anyone has laid so much as a finger on your chakras. Treats include a Mediterranean Marinade mask by Temple Spa (to soothe stressed-out skin) and HarSPA hot stone massages to iron out any tension. Elsewhere there is a lap pool with private poolside cabanas and Breton-stripe loungers, hot tub, sauna, Eucalyptus-scented steam room, gym, and chill-out room.

Monkey Island Estate Bray, Berkshire, England
8 Telegraph expert rating

No more building is allowed on Monkey Island, a fish-shaped eyot (island) on the River Thames, so instead of a new spa building, an inspired addition is the creation of a Floating Spa, housed in a specially built riverboat moored along the bank. Treatment rooms are in cabins, the therapists wear nautical outfits and the whole ‘spa journey’ is a soothing, unusual and unpretentious delight. The former priory’s heritage is also brought into play: pastilles and homemade elixirs made with plants and herbs grown in the estate’s Experimental Teahouse take inspiration from ancient recipes brewed by monks who inhabited the island 800 years ago.

Iconic Superyacht, Octopus, Now Available to Charter

Pelorus has been changing the travel game for the last five years, shaking up the pick-and-pay way of the past and creating bespoke itineraries for those seeking something different. Pelorus is also one of our partners, and we’re delighted to be associated with a company with a like-minded approach to outstanding service and unwavering commitment to excellence.

Pelorus is now offering for exclusive private charters and unrivalled adventures one of the most iconic and versatile super yachts in the world, OCTOPUS.

At the time of her launch in 2003, OCTOPUS was the largest explorer yacht ever built, revolutionising the world of yacht expeditions. Previously used as base for explorers, OCTOPUS boasts an impressive history of maritime discoveries, including the long-lost wreck of Japan’s biggest battleship from the Second World War in the Philippines.

Now available for exclusive private charters for up to 12 guests across 13 palatial cabins, OCTOPUS epitomises luxury yacht travel. At over 400 feet long, guests can delight in this relaxing haven spread across 8 decks, with opulent interiors and sleek outdoor spaces designed with the utmost care by Espen Oeino. The extensive crew of 42 will ensure a remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime stay with excellent service of the highest calibre.

OCTOPUS is truly a yacht without boundaries. Complete with two helipads and an ice-class hull perfect for reaching even the most inaccessible and remote spots, she also boasts seven tenders and her own marina with a full diving centre. Guests won’t be short of entertainment onboard with a dedicated cinema and impressive freshwater swimming pool at the heart of the outdoor bar space. Relax in the spa and wellness area or admire the marine life swimming below your feet in the glass-bottomed aquarium.

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