Flexjet, Sentient Jet acquire another helicopter operator

By Doug Gollan, May 5, 2021

Directional Aviation’s OneSky Flight, parent of Flexjet and Sentient, says it is targeting managed helicopter fleets, this time adding a U.K.-based operator

Flexjet, the second-largest fractional fleet operator, and sister Sentient Jet, a leader in jet cards, now have a second helicopter operator in the OneSky Flight portfolio. Halo Aviation Ltd., an operator in the United Kingdom, follows the acquisition earlier this year of Associated Aircraft Group (AAG). The latter operates Sikorsky helicopters in the Northeastern U.S.

These moves are designed to position Flexjet, Sentient Jet, and on-demand charter brokers FXAIR and PrivateFly, to expand door-to-door private flight solutions. It’s the fourth deal by a major fixed-wing operator this year. Wheels Up announced a partnership with Bell Textron. Jet Linx said it is partnering with helicopter charter broker Blade.

“My vision is to strategically position each of our flight providers to become a leader in its market,” said Kenneth C. Ricci, Principal, Directional Aviation, parent of OneSky Flight and its member companies.

He continued, “Flexjet is the preeminent global fractional ownership company, Sentient Jet offers the industry’s leading jet card, and FXAIR and PrivateFly have uniquely-positioned offerings in the on-demand charter space. Now, with the acquisition of Halo and AAG, we can add another market to that list: Vertical lift.”

Ricci added that the addition of Halo advances three important strategic goals, saying, “First, these acquisitions position us as a leader in the exciting future of vertical lift solutions. Second, it builds a core competency in urban mobility operations. Third, it makes possible synergies with our other affiliated companies, like Flexjet and Sentient, allowing us to provide a complete aircraft travel solution.”

H said, “During the coming months, we will share with our customers and partners our plans for taking vertical lift services to the next level – perhaps through bolstering the fleet with a manufacturer order which could lead to a possible combination of powerhouse travel solutions.”

Halo was founded in 2009 by William Fanshawe and Therese Bewsey. It has bases in the south of England, around London, in the Midlands, and the Channel Islands.

Clients include leaders in business, government, and other fields as well as leisure travelers. It provides connections between airports and city centers, short-haul domestic destinations such as musical festivals, racecourses, and sports and entertainment events.

According to its website, Halo operates a fleet of 10 Augusta AW169 and Augusta AW109 helicopters. Configurations range from five to eight seats. It offers a shuttle operation between Farnborough Airport The London Heliport seven days a week.

Bringing new customers to helicopter

Ricci said Flexjet, Sentient, FXAIR, and PrivateFly “will inject a new group of customers…and will pave the way for a unique end-to-end travel solution not offered by any other provider.”

In a press release, the company said, “The structure of these companies and their relationships to each other will offer differentiators in the market that other brands will not be able to duplicate – from the safety of flying managed fleets to the packaging of end-to-end flight solutions – these acquisitions will rebrand what the private jet traveler will want in a provider.”

Acquisitions of managed helicopter fleets gives Directional “full control of assets and operations, ensuring that their stringent safety standards are met, that service aligns with the highest standards of quality and that synergies with other companies in the OneSky family are realized.”

“The acquisitions of Halo and AAG by themselves make us a leader in vertical lift,” said Andrew Collins, CEO of OneSky’s on-demand private jet travel and vertical lift lead.

He added, “They also provide the foundation for the future of global mobility, with the capabilities to provide outstanding service on two continents; to provide a platform for the entry into service of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) technology. In addition, they offer a critical, customer-benefiting differentiator for their fellow OneSky companies, providing the link between airports and final destinations. We look forward to bringing to vertical lift the same commitment to excellence in customer service that we have to our other private aviation markets.”

AAG operates the Sikorsky S-76 and offers charter services. It offers the AAG Excalibur Card in 10-hour increments, Sikorsky Shares, and New York-area airport transfer services. It also offers professional aircraft maintenance and management services for Sikorsky owners.

OneSky seems to be taking a targeted interest in connecting the Northeastern U.S. and U.K. Earlier this week, Sentient announced it added fixed one-way rates between New York and London. Flexjet’s fractional Gulfstream G650 program specifically targets customers based in the two global business capital. Directional launched a Europe-wide Flexjet fractional ownership and jet card program in November. Directional’s Ricci is also behind SPAC Zanite Acquisition. It’s targeting next-generation flight solutions, including eVTOLs.

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