Clive Richardson – Executive VP Flexjet

European Operations


Since its inception in 1995, Flexjet has experienced incredible growth as a true disruptor within the global fractional ownership market. In late 2019, Flexjet launched its European operation and fast forward to 2022, Flexjet has a European operational centre in Malta with offices in Ta’Xbiex, alongside a sales office in Mayfair London, and a Tactical Control Centre at Farnborough Airport. It is also in the process of developing a private helicopter division, aiming to deliver a truly global door-to-door service that is based on safety, flexibility and exceptional service experience.

Aviation Malta caught up with Clive Richardson, Executive Vice President for Flexjet’s UK and European operations.

What makes Flexjet different?

It is our flexibility, our unique approach to customer service and our attention to detail that enables us to provide such a high quality, end-to-end experience. This is combined with our 100% commitment to safety, compliance and operational quality. We offer a unique product and operate state-of-the-art and exclusive aircraft that deliver industry-leading safety and performance.

We spend a long time choosing the right people to work with us and we train our people to deliver unforgettable onboard experiences for all our aircraft

owners, their colleagues and their guests. We offer luxurious cabins that are fully connected with high- speed Ka-band Wi-Fi, making streaming and video meetings from the air a reality.

Our Red Label service experience means we have flight crew dedicated to each particular aircraft tail, along with unique, custom-designed interiors for each cabin. We liken this to an exceptional boutique hotel experience and our owners appreciate that level of attention to detail.

Operationally, our standards are the highest imaginable, with a well-structured management system and processes controlling integrity and safety. Our flight crew training is extensive, with our Approved Training Organisation (ATO) status and our own simulators allowing us to focus on specific sector skills development and build our training schedule around demand and new aircraft deliveries. When it comes to maintenance, we have our own facilities here in Europe, within our group of companies.

But at Flexjet we are continually looking to enhance our service offering yet further, so following the lead of our U.S. business, we’re developing a Flexjet helicopter service. We realise that time is an essential commodity for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, so this adds a truly bespoke, door-to-door service for our European customers.

Can you give us details on Flexjet’s Shared Ownership model?

Flexjet’s shared ownership model (also known as fractional ownership) is very popular with discerning, frequent flyers. It can be a preferred option to owning a whole aircraft giving more reliable and flexible access to the latest modern aircraft, a larger pool of resource and expertise, as well as lower insurance and fuel costs.

We also offer a programme called Access which is a type of jet leasing for those looking to avoid asset ownership. Both programmes have unrivalled levels of onboard and ground service as well as the highest levels of aircraft availability, convenience and service.

Which private jet types does Flexjet operate in Europe?

Our owners benefit from access to the youngest and most advanced private fleet in the industry. In Europe, this includes the Embraer Praetor 600 and Gulfstream G650. Both are outstanding aircraft and top performers in their class.

The Gulfstream G650 is iconic and speaks for itself – it’s a hugely popular large cabin aircraft with stunning performance, range, and comfort. The super-midsize Praetor 600 has been a great differentiator for us here in Europe, with Flexjet the launch customer for Embraer. It has a range of over 7,400 km making it possible to fly from London to New York, or London to Dubai direct. It also has incredible operational performance and capability, for example, operating to and from a 1000-metre runway and able to perform steep approaches and landings, such as at London City Airport. Both the Praetor 600 and the Gulfstream G650 are unique products in their class, covering a broad range of mission options for our owners.

Could you tell us a little bit about your story, Clive?

I oversee all aspects of the certified side of the operations for Flexjet in Europe as the Accountable Manager.

I’ve been in aviation for my entire working life joining the industry in my early twenties as a pilot and working my way up to an airline Captain and Training Captain. I’ve flown all over the world and clocked up over 16,000 flying hours, working with large airlines as both a pilot and senior manager. I have flown various aircraft types, including Boeing 747s for Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, Airbuses, various corporate jet types, even a 1940s Catalina seaplane.

For nearly 20 years now I’ve also been working outside of the cockpit, first getting involved in flight crew training, then developing my skills in flight operations and training management. I worked for the UK CAA for a significant period of my career as both an inspector and then latterly in senior management.

I am very passionate about operational integrity, standards of operation, building performance and organisational capability. I enjoy developing start-up organisations or transforming existing ones. From small to large organisations, each bring their unique challenges and rewards. In 2019, I left my role at the UK CAA to join Flexjet and their new European operation. Flexjet offered the best of both worlds, as an exciting new organisation in Europe supported by a large, long-established group operation in the U.S. What also attracted me was the unique commitment to safety, compliance and operational standards, attention to detail and its focus on its people and owners.

How has Brexit affected Flexjet’s European operation?

Flexjet’s clients are based across Europe and worldwide and, before Brexit, we were able to operate freely with highly-integrated and effective supply chains. The loss of free movement across Europe presented challenges to our growth plans, but we were able to react to this by establishing our operation in Malta, which is now our principal place of business and the location for the majority of our fixed- wing operations.

The UK is a pivotal market for our sector, so there has been much post-Brexit adjustment across the industry. Licensing and approvals were an important consideration for example. and so we now maintain pilots with two licences, one for the UK and one for EASA. We have worked through these challenges and have structured our training and maintenance plans in such a way to minimise disruption.

Why have you chosen Malta for your operational base in Europe?

One reason we chose Malta is because it has a very dynamic and growing aviation community, with an English-speaking knowledge and skills base.

Crucially we found Malta to be a fantastic jurisdiction to run an aviation business. Safety and compliance are at the centre of all decision-making, with a focus on excellence set right from the top – led by Captain Charles Pace, the Director General for Civil Aviation at Transport Malta. Charles is supported by an excellent team of experts in flight operations, airworthiness and licensing. They are friendly and constructive across the board. If you share their vision in terms of safety and compliance, are committed to the operational integrity and substance in Malta, then you will find the administrative processes and communications will always support your business development. It’s an excellent and unique environment for us to develop our European business.

How do your Maltese AOC and Malta operation play a key part in this?

Gaining our Maltese Air Operator Certificate (AOC) has been integral in helping us to achieve our ambitious growth plans. Our new AOC here has given us greater operational scope within the EU and beyond, as our owners are increasingly flying a greater variety of routes.

Over the course of this year, we will have almost doubled our European fleet. We currently have ten aircraft in Malta, and plans for more in the coming years. We have recently expanded our office facilities in Malta at Whitehall in Ta’Xbiex. An excellent central and well-appointed location in the heart of the Embassy district.

We are combining Flexjet’s rapid expansion in Europe with solid investment in infrastructure and consolidation, further strengthening our position as a global market leader. For the future, we are looking to further develop our commitment to Malta and in particular working closely with Transport Malta. This will both support our European growth plans and provide investment for the aviation community here, with new opportunities for learning and development among its working population, who are highly adaptable and educated.

Talent development on the island is very important for us and are looking to attract local expertise where we can and to develop training and apprenticeship schemes where possible.

Could you tell us a little about the Gloucester Gladiator restoration project that Flexjet is supporting?

We often have to look at the past to secure our future and Flexjet is committed to supporting both Maltese industry and the rich aviation history that has helped to shape the culture of Malta.

There is so much British and Maltese collaboration both past and present. We are helping to sponsor the renovation of a Gloucester Gladiator as a permanent feature of the Malta Aviation Museum, celebrating Malta’s unique heritage and its contribution to World War II. This is an impressive and significant undertaking by the restoration team and will take many years to complete. In 1940 Malta was under attack by the Italian Air Force but had no aircraft left. However, a large collection of parts for the Gladiator biplane were left in containers by a visiting British aircraft carrier. Malta’s Royal Air Force mechanics assembled a small three-strong fleet of these biplanes named “Faith”, “Hope” and “Charity”. These three planes defended the island singlehandedly for ten days until backup aircraft arrived. Their heroism gave a much-needed boost to the morale of the Maltese population, so we are pleased to be helping in some small way to evoke that memory today.

Leading through safety and sustainability

At Flexjet, we drive evolution and transformation. Over the years the company has transitioned into a large global organisation with one of the largest and youngest fleets in the industry. The leading safety and operational integrity that underpins this is a crucial component across the whole group.

Sustainability is also an essential consideration. We go above and beyond other providers by offsetting every flight to 300% of carbon emissions as standard, then allowing owners to invest in sustainable aviation fuel and the Aviation Climate Fund which supports future flight R&D. As a group, we’re also heavily invested in the burgeoning eVTOL sector which is a very exciting area – we’re thinking about the future comprehensively and thoughtfully.

Additionally, business analytics are crucial in our operation. Leveraging data helps us develop the operation and safety, but also the efficiency we offer our owners. I’m very keen to put data-driven decision- making at the front and centre of Flexjet’s operations, to maintain our competitive edge and deliver real value for our aircraft owners.

We’re not afraid to invest in the right people; people are at the heart of a service-based company and we have an amazing team who have stayed with Flexjet. In the U.S., Flexjet have been voted one of the best places to work year after year and people remain with us for many years of loyal service.

Flexjet Operations Malta Ltd.

Level 3 Whitehall Mansions, Ta’ Xbiex Wharf Ta’ Xbiex XBX 1026

+44 (0)20 3856 8151 :