The big keep getting bigger as Vista Global adds 15 light jets to XO’s floating fleet of 43 super-midsize private jets. It expands the XO branded fleet to 58 aircraft. The Florida-based IS-BAO Stage 3 operator also flies 15 of VistaJet’s N-registered private jets. The new aircraft brings Vista Global’s overall fleet count to 130 aircraft, with 56% registered in the U.S.
The company said it expects to grow its light jet fleet to more than 50 over an unspecified period in making the announcement. The first batch is all Citation V Ultras, with plans to add more Ultras and Citation Encores. The aircraft will be upgraded to match cabin standards of the current XO fleet, the company said.
According to data from Conklin & DeDecker, Ultras have a range of 1,259 nautical miles full or 1,651 nautical miles with four passengers. Citation Encores have 1,410 nautical miles and 1,736 nautical miles, respectively.
A spokesperson tells Private Jet Card Comparisons that all 15 Ultras are coming from a single seller, which could indicate the U.S. government had previously owned them. The Army appears to be the only operator with that number of the light jet types currently in service. Red Wing Aviation, the 19th largest Part 135 operator, lists a fleet of 13 Ultras. Neither returned calls for comment.
Updated Nov. 10, 2020, @ 7:30 pm: Two sources tell Private Jet Card Comparisons the aircraft are indeed coming from Red Wing Aviation, although neither company has confirmed the transaction’s nature. Updated Nov. 18, 2020: XOJET confirms it bought a “controlling majority” stake in Red Wing, adding, “Red Wing will be independently operated under XOJET Aviation’s control and leadership.” It noted, XOJET will “benefit from the company’s expertise in maintenance and sim training capabilities.
It’s the latest move in the race to chase market leader NetJets. Wheels Up, which currently has the second-largest for-hire fleet in the U.S., has acquired Delta Private Jets, Gama Aviation Signature, and TMC jets over the past 18 months. Directional Aviation’s OneSky Flight launched FXAIR, an on-demand broker, and said it would create a floating fleet using over 30 super-midsize and large cabin aircraft that had previously been part of Flexjet’s fractional ownership program.
Vista Global, which entered the U.S. market less than a decade ago, made its first major move by buying XOJet Aviation in 2018. Last year it acquired JetSmarter combining the brokerage businesses and rebranding it as simply XO.
In making today’s announcement, the company said, “XO’s membership base has nearly doubled since April, and its new members, as well as existing customers, are increasingly looking for solutions for their short distance travels. Many flyers, living or working outside the major aviation hubs, are facing firsthand the restrictions resulting from deep reductions in commercial aviation services. A light jet is the perfect solution to travel short distances between underserved locations.”
As a foreign-owned company, Vista Global can only maintain a minority stake in XOJET Aviation, the U.S. Part 135 operator.
XO has several memberships and jet card options that include dynamic and fixed one-way rates with guaranteed availability. Until now, its light and midsize options had been off-fleet on a network of vetted third-party operators. In terms of service area and policies for its Elite Access light jet program, a spokesperson said there are no changes being announced.