The move comes as Wheels Up, VistaJet, JetSmarter, JetSuite and Victor have all announced new funding to power expansion
U.S.-based Bird Dog Jet has been acquired by U.K. PrivateFly, according to an email from the latter. “I wanted to share some exciting news with you about our continued expansion. 2017 has been a record-breaking year for us, showing another plus 50% growth rate. We’ve been busy arranging more flights, for more customers, than ever before. And I’m now delighted to be able to announce PrivateFly’s takeover of Bird Dog Jet, a US charter broker. They will join our existing US team based in Fort Lauderdale, to enable us to fly more clients within North America, the Caribbean and further afield,” wrote Adam Twidell, CEO of PrivateFly in an email to customers.
Twidell added that the broker’s European team “continues to grow too and we’re expecting this to be an exceptionally busy winter season, with our Flight Team handling business and leisure flights to many European cities and ski destinations.”
Both PrivateFly and Bird Dog Jet have jet card programs, while the PrivateFly program doesn’t offer guaranteed availability, Bird Dog Jet offers guaranteed access 358 days per year. Neither has guaranteed hourly rates. Bird Dog is a preferred supplier of luxury travel agency group Virtuoso.
The news from PrivateFly comes in what has been a busy period for funding and merger talk. Twice this year Wheels Up has announced new funding, In October it said it had raised $117.5 million, after a June announcement covering $90 million from KKR. In August, VistaJet said it had received $150 million from Rhone Capital. Earlier in August, JetSmarter announced it had raised an undisclosed amount of money from Clearlake Capital Group, L.P., Leucadia National Corporation and existing investors. Last November JetBlue said it had made a small investment in JetSuite, Inc. Victor in September announced $10 million in funding from an arm of BP as part of a round bringing in $20 million. Victor is also set to launch a U.S. version jet card next in 2018.
Ricky Sitomer, the co-founder of Blue Star Jets who now heads Star Jets International, had previously announced plans to acquire private jet charter brokers and create a large, publicly traded private jet charter brokerage. U.K.-based Air Partner is the only stand-alone private jet charter company that is publicly traded, while Delta Private Jet, Jet Aviation and NetJets are all subsidiaries in publicly traded entities.