The private jet charter operator is part of Vista Global Holdings, which includes VistaJet and brokerage arm XO

Our Private Jet Operator CARES Act Relief Scorecard shows how much the 25 largest U.S. operators received in payroll support

Ft. Lauderdale-based XOJET Aviation is the latest of the major private jet charter and fractional share players to have signed an agreement to receive funds as part of the CARES Act. It entered into an agreement with the Treasury Department last month providing $13.1 million.

The Payroll Support Program (PSP) provides payroll support to passenger air carriers, cargo air carriers, and certain contractors for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries, and benefits.

A total of up to $25 billion is available for passenger air carriers. The largest recipients have been scheduled airlines.

According to the Treasury Department, “The amount to be received by each air carrier or contractor is based on its payroll expenses from April 2019 through September 2019, subject to proration. Funds received by these air carriers and contractors must exclusively be used for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries, and benefits.”

XOJET Aviation is part of Dubai-based Vista Global Holdings, which owns a minority stake due to restrictions on foreign ownership.

It operates a fleet of 43 super-midsize Citation X and Challenger 300 private jets and recently moved its headquarters from California to Florida.

Related companies include XO, which was formed by the merger of XOJET’s brokerage arm with JetSmarter, also acquired last year by Vista Global Holdings, and VistaJet, known for its fleet of long-haul Bombardier aircraft.

Recently, Vista Global chairman Thomas Flohr told CNBC U.S. flying had returned to 85% of pre-COVID-19 levels.

XOJET Aviation also operates VistaJet’s N-tail fleet. Those are its private jets registered in the U.S.

Wheels Up, Flexjet, Sentient Jet, NetJets

An analysis by Private Jet Card Comparisons using Argus Traqpak data of top Part 135 and 91K operators shows to date 17 of the largest 25 players have received PSP funds.

Wheels Up Partners Holdings, which encompasses Wheels Up, Gama Aviation Signature, Delta Private Jets, and TMC Jets, and ranks second on the list in terms of flight hours, received $74 million.

OneSky Flight, part of Directional Aviation, which houses Flexjet, Sentient Jet, and PrivateFly, and ranks third in flight hours, received $84 million.

In the case of both Wheels Up and OneSky, the Argus flight hours don’t include a significant number of flights booked for their customers off-fleet onto other Part 135 operators.

The largest private jet operator, Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets, which includes its namesake brand and Executive Jet Management, which sells charters on a fleet of managed private jets, has publicly said it did not apply for government support. Solairus Aviation, ranked seventh in flight hours, also said it didn’t apply.

PlaneSense, a fractional share fleet operator of Pilatus PC-24s and PC-12s has not appeared on the Treasury Department list yet. It is now the largest player – ranked fifth in terms of flight hours – to not have shown up so far.

The Treasury Department updates its list every couple weeks, the most recent covering loan agreements executed through June 26.

JetSuite, ranked 17th, which grounded its fleet in April and subsequently filed for Chapter 11 protection, said in court filings that its precarious state prohibited it from applying for CARES Act. funds. However, Delux Public Charter, an affiliated company not involved in the bankruptcy, did gain $8.9 million in government support. It operates scheduled flights under the JSX moniker. It also provided debtor-in-possession funding to JetSuite, according to court documents.

Bailing Out Private Jet Operators

While there has been media coverage critical of private aviation companies receiving a government bailout, in retrospect including business aviation is proving to be an astute move.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines received nearly $20 billion in CARES Act monies. Still, most of their fleets remain grounded with executives saying it may take at least three years to restore their networks to pre-COVID-19 levels. According to TSA numbers, the number of airline passengers remains at around 25% of pre-pandemic levels.

Health authorities have also been critical of recent announcements from airlines that they will now sell every seat on flights., causing concern for high-risk travelers. At the same time, private aviation providers have been stepping up health-hygiene protocols, investing in testing, screening, and heightened cleaning and virus protection protocols.

At the same time, private jet operators have rebounded from April lows where flying plunged by around 80%. Private flights are now running at 70-80% of pre-Covid levels. Gogo Business Aviation reports aircraft equipped with its WiFi services are back to nearly 90% of their former levels.

Private aviation providers report many customers are new to private aviation. Sentient Jet reported half of its sales in April and May were to new customers while NetJets said May was its best month for new customer acquisition since 2007.

The newbies are driven by both health concerns and lacking airline schedule, the latter making airlines often inconvenient or in some cases impossible to use.

Below is the full scorecard of the top Part 135 and 91K private jet operators ranked by 2019 flight hours, with CARES Act funds received.

Largest Part 135/91K Private Jet Operators CARES Act Scorecard

COMPANY (Recipient/Affiliated Brands) 2019
HOURS 
CARES ACT FUNDS (in Dollars)
1. NetJets (NetJets, Executive Jet Management)            459,187 
DNA 
2. Wheels Up Partners Holdings (Wheels Up, Gama Aviation Signature, Delta Private Jets, TMC Jets)            160,161 
$      74,227,036
3. OneSky Flight (Flexjet, Flight Options, Sentient Jet, PrivateFly)            130,379 
$       84,362,984

4. XOJET Aviation (XO, VistaJet)
              51,741 
$       13,146,562

5. PlaneSense
              34,648 
NI 

6. Jet Linx Aviation
              31,354
 $       20,033,063

7. Solairus Aviation
              28,352 
DNA 

8. Jet Edge
              22,549 
NI 

9. Exclusive Jets
              20,764 
$          7,098,628

10. Mountain Aviation
              17,714 
$          7,173,077

11. Executive Flight Services (Airshare)
              16,369 
$          6,928,679

12. Clay Lacy Aviation
              16,026 
$       26,937,934

13. Jet Aviation
              15,725 
NI 

14. Corporate Flight Management
              12,703 
$          2,915,703

15. Aero Air
              12,125 
NI 

16. Talon Air
              11,826 
$          5,202,329

17. Delux Public Charter (JSX, JetSuite)
              10,929 
$          8,958,475

18. Nicholas Air
              10,072 
NI 

19. Worldwide Jet Charter
                9,362 
$          4,179,700

20. LJ Associates
                8,196 
$          3,100,359

21. Red Wing Aeroplane
                8,143 
$          2,698,908

22. SC Aviation
                7,661 
$          4,616,357

23. Jet Access Aviation
                7,622 
$          2,371,863

24. Dumont Aviation
                7,388
$          2,977,458

25. Ultimate Jet Charters
                7,354 
$         2,828,548
Source: Argus Traqpak, U.S. Treasury Department. NI = No Information; DNA = Did Not Apply
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