US charter and management provider Jet Edge International has signed a joint venture with an undisclosed Chinese company to establish an operation within this flourishing business aviation market.
"We hope to reveal the identity of our partner in the next month, once everything is in place," says Bill Papariella, president and founder of Jet Edge - formerly branded Western Jet International.
"We are going hard into China," he continues. "We have one aircraft there already and hope to have five in place by the end of the year," he adds.
Papariella, along with four other shareholders, established Jet Edge in August last year.
"We are all former senior NetJets employees," he says.
"We bought [Los Angeles charter and management company] Western Jet Aviation last year and have more than doubled the [all managed] mainly Gulfstream fleet since that time, from five to 12 aircraft. We expect to have 18 jets [in the US and China] by the end of our first year of operation and 20 by the end of the year," says Papariella.
Jet Edge's focus is on the large cabin, long-range aircraft types but it does have a clutch of smaller business jets to cater for shorter journeys. "Around 80% of our flights are international," Papariella concedes. "The large cabin market is strong right now and the margins at the upper end [of the charter market] are much better compared to the smaller types."
Papariella attributes the company's success to its "aggressive yet credible sale approach", fostered during the executive's tenure at NetJets. "We apply the same sales techniques for fractional ownership to a local operator and this strategy has paid off," he says.
Jet Edge's owners are keen to retain the company's "boutique" status and have no plans to expand the business further.
"We offer a personal, bespoke, high-quality service to our customers. You cannot provide that level of service if you are too big - so we don't expect to grow our fleet beyond 24 aircraft," Papariella says.