Less than a month after its launch, business aviation holding company Vista Global has announced the acquisition of XOJET. The deal, to purchase one of the largest on-demand charter operators in the USA, is expected to close before the end of November.
Vista Global was launched by Swiss entrepreneur and VistaJet founder Thomas Flohr with the aim of "consolidating" the "fragmented but expanding business aviation market”.
Backed by a $200 million investment from private equity firm Rhône Group, the Dubai-headquartered venture owns three existing operations: Malta-based VistaJet; a new leasing arm, Vista Lease; and TechX, a technology unit that will market an app-based booking platform to third-party operators designed to fill empty legs on positioning flights.
Ian Moore, chief commercial officer for Vista Global and VistaJet, says the acquisition of XOJET will strengthen the company's presence in the "strategically important and thriving" US market, where VistaJet already has a fleet of 15 N-registered business jets – nine Bombardier Challenger 350s and six Global 5000s.
"One in four of our flights originates in North America today," Moore says. "This compares with one in 20 only four years ago when we launched our operation here. At any given time, there are around 30 of our VistaJet aircraft buzzing around the region’s airspace."
XOJET operates a fleet of 43 branded super-midsize business jets – 26 Cessna Citation Xs and 17 Challenger 300s – all serving the ad hoc charter market. Four of the aircraft are on an operating lease, and the remainder are owned by the Brisbane, California-based company.
Moore says XOJET will complement VistaJet's high-end subscription-based service by capturing the "move-up and move-down" markets. "Customers flying ad hoc charter may choose to upgrade if they are flying more than 50h, or if they need guaranteed availability," he says. "Likewise, VistaJet customers may experience a change in circumstances, and need a more cost-effective solution. Before, we have lost these people to other products."
Including the US-registered aircraft, VistaJet operates a fleet of over 70 red and silver-liveried Bombardier jets – 21 Challenger 350s, 10 Challenger 605s, six Challenger 850s, six Global 5000s and 29 Global 6000s.
It is planning to take delivery of its initial Global 7500 in the fourth quarter of 2019, with Flohr believed to have placed an order with Bombardier for up to 30 of the ultra-long-range type.