Exclusive: Digital private jet broker Camber seeks investment, acquisition

By Doug Gollan, December 29, 2021

Private jet charter broker Camber wants investment or to be acquired

The frenzied private aviation mergers and acquisitions market may be weeks away from another deal. Digital private jet charter broker Camber is exploring a transaction. CEO and founder Charles Denault confirmed the possibility to Private Jet Card Comparisons.

According to an email from the company to a potential acquirer, it has set a January 12 deadline “for submission of highest and best offers.” The board plans to review offers on January 18.

Camber seeks a partner

The email solicitation stated Camber is seeking “a partner with charter operator relationships that can help accelerate our integration with their scheduling systems. We currently are integrating 3-4 operators and 25+ tails per month and have ambition to execute faster. It’s clear to us that we can only accelerate so quickly on our own, and partnering can help us move much faster.”

The email also noted an internal conflict. “We have a 20% shareholder that does not support our direction, but has not accepted the Company’s offer to repurchase their shares. The board believes that an acquisition of the Company is the best way to move forward.”

Denault declined to comment except to say, “We are exploring partnerships in many different forms to accelerate growth. We’re interested in partnering with companies that have significant demand where we can leverage our technology to make them more efficient.”

Accurate instant charter pricing

Camber claims to have “a machine learning algorithm (developed from air traffic control data and our proprietary database of charter aircraft) which is more than 90% accurate for any domestic charter route.”

It is one of the few charter brokers that offer hard quotes with instant booking. Virtually all brokers’ online interfaces are limited to estimates that need to be sourced and then confirmed.

Camber uses “a real-time sourcing and scheduling algorithm that is directly connected to the scheduling systems for charter operators.”

It says those connections currently represent over 120 aircraft across 17 operators.

One operator previously confirmed its connection to Camber, which rebranded from Simple Charters earlier this month.

Denault says Camber will generate close to $11 million in gross charter sales this year, a 300% increase.

Camber is offering customers who set up a funded account before the end of the year a 5% discount on 2022 flights. Denault says monies from funded accounts will be held in a separate escrow account. He says the broker, which he started in 2011, is cash flow positive.

Frenzied merger activity

While most M&A activity has revolved around operators, earlier this year, Vista Global purchased mega-broker Apollo Jets, which it said brought over $250 million in sales.

In 2018, Vista bought XOJet, bringing around $100 million in off-fleet sales. In 2019, it acquired tech jet sharing platform JetSmarter, bringing an estimated $50 million in whole aircraft charters. It was the foundation for the group’s digital ambitions.

On a smaller scale, Canadian charter platform Jettly picked up Online Jet Charters this past May.

In 2019, Private Jet Services acquired broker The Flight Exchange.

Directional’s OneSky, which includes Flexjet and Sentient Jet, bought U.K. broker PrivateFly in 2018. In 2020, it spun PrivateFly’s U.S. operations into FXAIR, a new on-demand brand.

Wheels Up used its 2019 acquisition of tech platform Avianis for its plan to create a digital charter market. It is battling Vista Global’s XO.

But, others have ambitions as well. In February, Tuvoli, a Directional incubated start-up focused on processing payments between brokers and operators, acquired FlyEasy, a digital directory of charter aircraft used by brokers to source flights.

Who views Camber’s technology as a building block for their digital ambitions should become apparent next month.

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