US charter company Delta AirElite has acquired business aviation services provider Segrave Aviation.

The purchase of 16-year-old Kinston, North Carolina-based Segrave is the first company acquisition for the Delta Air Lines subsidiary, which was itself formed following the sale in 2000 of Comair Jet Express to the US carrier.

Delta AirElite is the only business jet charter and management company owned by a major US airline - a position Delta is keen to exploit.

"We have been working since 2000 to grow the business organically and internally by boosting the aircraft fleet and introducing new charter programmes for our customers," says Shane Jones, Delta's general manager, corporate strategy and business development.

"We were not actively looking to buy another company, but this opportunity came along and has enabled us to take our expansion to another level," he adds.

The Segrave purchase doubles Delta AirElite's fleet, bringing its tally of business jets to 44. These include Bombardier Challenger 601s and Learjet 60s and Hawker 800A/XPs.

Jones says: "We are able to offer our customers a much bigger and broader fleet. With more aircraft in our line-up we can reduce the number of costly empty legs."

The "popular and established" Delta brand has not only boosted Delta AirElite's profile within the "competitive" charter market, Jones adds, it has also helped to lessen the impact of the economic downturn on its business.

"Of course flight hours have fallen and so have company revenues, but we are still in a healthy financial position and the market is starting to pick up again now," he says.

Source: Flight International