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PrivateFly plots expansion after Directional acquisition

UK online charter broker PrivateFly says it is working with its new owner Directional Aviation to develop a roadmap for the company, with the aim of creating the leading digital platform for on-demand business aircraft travel in the world.

Directional acquired the St Albans-headquartered company in early September, via its OneSky subsidiary, to complement its expanding portfolio of business aircraft operators and brokers.

Operating under the OneSky banner, the line-up includes fractional ownership company Flexjet, block charter provider Sentient Jet and online booking platform Skyjet.

Directional also owns US maintenance firm Constant Aviation and aircraft remanufacturing company Nextant Aerospace – developer of the Challenger 604XT and 400XT/XTi business jets and the G90XT twin-turboprop.

Directional’s immediate plan is to merge PrivateFly with Skyjet, with co-founders of the former, Adam Twidell and Carol Cork, heading the combined entity.

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Flexjet

Twidell and Cork launched PrivateFly in 2008, with the husband and wife team re-mortgaging their house to fund the venture. “We are the first business model to offer private aircraft booking end-to-end, which puts the power in the customer’s hands,” says Cork. “Despite the many doubters telling us ‘no one will book a private jet online’, we were convinced we had a winning formula.”

PrivateFly has seen its business grow year-on-year since its launch, with 1.5 million searches made on its platform in 2017 alone, resulting in sales of around $20 million.

Twidell describes PrivateFly as “a major player in the on-line charter market” with a database of more than 7,000 operators worldwide, including 4,000 in the USA and 2,000 in Europe. “We now want to work with Directional to enhance the offering,” he says.

New opportunities include a membership programme and a block charter service, which will serve Flexjet and Sentient’s US customers looking to travel within Europe, as well as local, regular users of business aircraft seeking more favourable rates and terms.

“We now have the opportunity to amplify our growth," Cork continues. "So in harnessing the strengths of the wider Directional group, we're all very excited about the future growth potential for our combined digital platform."

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