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.
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.
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.
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.
|COMPANY (Recipient/Affiliated Brands)|| 2019|
|CARES ACT FUNDS (in Dollars)|
|1. NetJets (NetJets, Executive Jet Management)||459,187|| |
|2. Wheels Up Partners Holdings (Wheels Up, Gama Aviation Signature, Delta Private Jets, TMC Jets)||160,161|| |
|3. OneSky Flight (Flexjet, Flight Options, Sentient Jet, PrivateFly)||130,379|| |
4. XOJET Aviation (XO, VistaJet)
6. Jet Linx Aviation
7. Solairus Aviation
8. Jet Edge
9. Exclusive Jets
10. Mountain Aviation
11. Executive Flight Services (Airshare)
12. Clay Lacy Aviation
13. Jet Aviation
14. Corporate Flight Management
15. Aero Air
16. Talon Air
17. Delux Public Charter (JSX, JetSuite)
18. Nicholas Air
19. Worldwide Jet Charter
20. LJ Associates
21. Red Wing Aeroplane
22. SC Aviation
23. Jet Access Aviation
24. Dumont Aviation
25. Ultimate Jet Charters