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July 13, 2011updated Feb 11, 2013

Flight Options Secures Financing to Acquire Embraer Phenom 300s

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Cleveland, Ohio And Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

Flight Options, LLC, the second-largest fractional jet company in the U.S, has entered into a three-year, USD$167 million financing agreement with Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) to finance the company’s purchase of Embraer Phenom 300® jet aircraft. The first-of-its-kind loan agreement between BNDES and a fractional jet operator will be guaranteed by the Brazilian Ministry of Finance, advised by the Brazilian Export Credit Insurance Agency (SBCE).

“We are pleased to enter into this landmark agreement with BNDES to help underwrite the acquisition of new Embraer Phenom 300 jet aircraft,” said Michael Silvestro, Flight Options Chief Executive Officer. “This financing agreement underscores the bank’s confidence in our financial stability, operating strength and future prospects. Demand from our private jet Owners and Members continues to improve, and the BNDES financing will facilitate our owners’ access to this extraordinary aircraft.”

In 2007, Flight Options placed an order for one hundred Phenom 300 business jets, plus an option to purchase 50 more. The total value of the order exceeds $1.2 billion, at the Phenom 300’s current list price. The company began taking delivery of the aircraft in May 2010 and currently has eight Phenom 300 jets in service. Flight Options anticipates having 15 Phenom 300 jets in operation by the end of 2011.

“The fractional jet ownership model is rebounding from the global economic downturn, and by extending funding to this sector, Brazil’s main long-term credit provider will help support an emerging recovery in corporate aviation and stimulate demand for a world-class aircraft,” said Kenneth Ricci, Chairman of Flight Options.

Earlier this year, Flight Options announced a 467 percent increase in fractional jet sales and a 46 percent increase in JetPASS® card sales during the first quarter of 2011, compared to the year-ago quarter. The company also announced that fractional utilization, which measures how actively the company’s owner/members are utilizing their shares, was up eight percent compared to the 2010 first quarter, while JetPASS flight revenue hours rose 35 percent. In response, Flight Options has been recalling furloughed pilots, re-opening maintenance centers and investing in customer service and operations.

“Flight Options is a financially sound, well-run fractional jet operator with a sophisticated clientele – the perfect company to make the best use of an advanced plane such as the Phenom 300,” added Vitor Sawczuk, Head of Business Underwriting for SBCE. “We believe the Phenom 300 is a game-changer for the light-jet category, and we are confident in Flight Options’ ability to help build this plane’s market share in the U.S.”

The Phenom 300 has a clean-sheet jet aircraft design that combines a midsize-jet cabin, industry-leading passenger and cockpit technology with extremely low occupied hourly rates. It provides the greatest range in light-jet category, flying a distance of 2,298 statute miles at speeds up to 518 mph. It has a maximum cruising altitude of 45,000 feet and a spacious cabin designed in collaboration with BMW Group DesignworksUSA.

“Flight Options has been a leader in developing new value programs for its owners and introducing new technology to the private jet fractional ownership business since its founding in 1998,” added Ricci. “Our ground-breaking agreement with BNDES extends that legacy of innovation, and we are confident that our loyal Owners and Members will derive significant benefits from this financing.”

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