In her role as the new President of private jet company Flexjet, Deanna White leverages over 25 years of experience from a variety of positions and industries. She joined Flexjet in 2005 as Director, Finance, was promoted to Senior Director, Finance in 2007, and in 2010 was promoted to Vice President of Finance and Administration. Prior to joining Flexjet, Deanna had a progressive 15-year career with GTE. During the GTE-Bell Atlantic merger into Verizon, she joined Genuity, an Internet company spun off from the merger, as Director of Accounting. She spent three years at Genuity before joining Flexjet. In addition, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Tampa and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Dallas. She is also a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Texas.
ET: Can you tell us a little about your background?
Deanna White: Yes, I came to Flexjet from GTE Telecom/Verizon in 2005 as Director of Finance, which encompassed all aspects of the business side of our company: HR, IT, contracts, and legal matters in addition to finance. I learned about private jets and general aviation while I was on the job here, but I worked directly for our previous President Fred Reid, so I had a great teacher to groom me for this position.
ET: What would you say are Flexjet’s outstanding qualities when compared to the competition?
Deanna White: Our mission is simple: We provide a premium private travel experience, which extends beyond just an owner’s time in the air. Our focus is on customer service. We like to say, “Our pilots board the airplane and turn right (toward the cabin to visit the passengers), not left (straight to the cockpit).” We also offer the industry’s broadest spectrum of services, from charter and card programs to flexible fractional ownership programs and whole aircraft management. Also, as a division of leading aerospace corporation Bombardier, we derive a certain level of expertise and aircraft accessibility from that relationship.
ET: Speaking of aircraft, it looks to be an exciting year ahead?
Deanna White: Yes, it is the 50th anniversary of Learjet this year, about which we are all very excited. The Learjet 85 aircraft, one of the most advanced private jets ever created, will begin delivery in 2013, and we will be the first fractional jet company to offer access to this exciting aircraft. We will also see the first Learjet 70 light jets this year.
ET: The fractional ownership model is now over a decade old. What kind of innovation do you see for the future?
Deanna White: “Flex” isn’t just in our name, it’s in our DNA. We pride ourselves on solutions that fit the needs of every owner, and we tap into our customer base to develop new offerings. Our new FlexShare program, for example, grew from requests from customers to split, say, a 50-hour share over more than one aircraft. This kind of option is a natural. Depending on your mix of business/leisure, long-haul/short-hop, multi-passenger/short list flying you can customize your hours between, say, a Learjet and a Challenger, on a single program. Many, many people have more than one “style” of flying, and this is a great match for them.
ET: Do you have a favorite Flexjet aircraft?
Deanna White: I’ve been fortunate to fly on nearly every type of jet in our collection of aircraft, and I have to say, right now, I am partial to the Challenger 300. It just offers such a nice blend of comfort, space and luxury. We’ve been managing the 300 for a decade now, so we have a lot of experience with it. That said, I’m extremely excited about the upcoming Learjet 85 aircraft. Not only is it a fully modern state-of-the-art composite aircraft, it also offers a very nice floor plan and gorgeous cabin interior.
ET: There has been some recovery in the private jet market this year. How do you see the future?
Deanna White: I would classify recovery now and in the short term as moderate. There are still many “products” to choose from when you want to fly privately. However, the idea that a private jet is an indispensable business tool has only solidified over the past few years. Of course, like the rest of the industry, we did experience a summer slowdown and then predictable growth to holiday season peaks, but I think the new aircraft we are adding to our collection will provide a lot of interest in Flexjet for all of next year.
ET: For the past few years, Asia and BRIC countries seemed to be the focus of activity for private aviation, has that shifted at all?
Deanna White: Yes, while developments abroad continue to offer important new opportunities, we are seeing the traditional North American/Fortune 500 market picking up. It is very exciting.
ET: Where do you like to travel when you have the chance?
Deanna White: Well, Bombardier is based in Montreal, which is one of the world’s most beautiful cities in my opinion. And the company has facilities in Ireland and Germany, so I’ve been able to travel pretty well just on business trips. I’ve managed to extend my stay sometimes to enjoy the Irish countryside, and I took a Rhine river tour after a business visit to Germany that was just terrific. My family background is German-Irish so those were important trips for me. I’m a history and art buff, so Rome is one of my favorite places. And I recently took my son to the Grand Canyon. It is so fun to see something like that for the first time all over again through the wonder in a child’s eye.