Three years after launching in the USA, VistaJet – one of the world’s largest charter operators – plans to increase its N-registered fleet of 11 to at least 16 in the “next few months” to reflect demand in the booming Stateside market.

The company says it tripled its customers and increased new programme hours by almost 150% in the third quarter, compared with the same period in 2016. US-originated flights now represent around a quarter of all VistaJet departures, Ron Silverman, president of VistaJet’s US operation, said at a press event this morning.

However, the additional aircraft will be “reallocated” from the rest of the VistaJet inventory. The Malta-headquartered company has no plans to add to its overall fleet of 72 Bombardier Global and Challenger aircraft until at least 2019.

In September, VistaJet boosted its balance sheet by raising $200 million from private equity firm Rhone Capital. While the investment – made in return for a roughly 7.5% stake in the company – will not be used directly for new aircraft, Silverman says that “it gives us ready capital if a situation adventageous to the VistaJet model arises”.

While VistaJet’s Maltese-registered aircraft can operate international flights to and from the USA, its N-registered aircraft are required for domestic journeys.

The company, founded by Thomas Flohr in 2004, is taking a Global 5000 on a tour of six US cities between 16-23 October in a sales and marketing effort. VistaJet says its silver and red-liveried fleet and its business model where customers pay only for the hours they fly sets it apart from rivals.

To help fill empty legs, the company has launched an app-based booking platform, where members, in exchange for a membership fee, can book rides at discount rates on positioning flights or when an aircraft is idle for several days at an airport. About a third of VistaJet’s fleet is empty at any time, which Flohr says is better than the industry average of 40% but still “isn’t an efficient use of our fleet”.

Source: Flight Daily News