France’s Wijet has acquired fellow European operator Blink to become the largest very light jet-equipped air taxi company in the world, with a fleet of 15 Cessna Citation Mustangs.
The purchase of Blackbushe, UK-based Blink moves the two providers a step closer to fulfilling their shared ambition to develop a pan-European, low-cost air taxi service.
“With 15 aircraft we have a strong core fleet,” says Cameron Ogden, Blink co-founder and chief executive of the new venture – dubbed the Wijet Group. “By taking advantage of the efficiencies that a larger, consolidated company can bring in terms of cheaper fuel, insurance and maintenance, we can also make the service even more affordable to our customers,” he adds.
“Our plan for the next six months is to complete the consolidation process. This will include moving Blink onto Wijet’s real-time booking platform, OpenJet, and placing Wijet’s [six] Mustangs onto Blink's aircraft operator's certificate.”
The companies will continue to operate under their separate brands until a new image is created. “We each have well-established names in the industry, so we are looking for an identity that fits both companies. It could something recognisable, like Wink,” says Ogden.
Blink was one of Europe’s earliest adopters of the low-cost air taxi concept. Launched in 2008, the privately-owned company had plans to implement a pan-European service with a fleet of 30 aircraft. The collapse of the financial markets later the same year put those plans on hold – but the company moved a step closer towards its goal in 2015, with the acquisition of Italian Mustang operator and maintenance provider MyJet.
Wijet was established in 2009, and has created a thriving business in France and the Benelux countries.
The Wijet Group says it will have combined revenues in 2016 of €18 million ($20.2 million), rising in 2017 to a forecast €28 million.
The Paris-headquartered company describes the acquisition as “a further milestone in the evolution of the air taxi industry, with significant consolidation viewed by both companies as the route to the efficiencies that will lead to sustainable and disruptive pricing in private aviation”.
Ogden agrees: “When the consolidation process is complete we will continue along the acquisition trail, with a view to building a fleet of 45 aircraft within three years.”
If further acquisitions are not forthcoming, Wijet Group will purchase the additional aircraft from the second-hand market. “We will probably stick with the Mustang, as there is nothing else like it,” Ogden says. “There are similar-sized aircraft available, such as the Embraer Phenom 100 and the HondaJet, but they are far more expensive.
"You can’t build a business model like ours with an expensive asset, because you will have to raise the price."
Source: Flight International