Vista Global agrees to buy private jet charter operator Air Hamburg

By Doug Gollan, February 21, 2022

Vista Global’s proposed acquisition of Air Hamburg adds 44 private jets for members of its XO and VistaJet membership programs

Another week, another deal. Vista Global has entered an agreement to buy Air Hamburg, bringing 44 owned and managed private jets into its fleet. If successful, it will increase Vista’s fleet size to over 240 aircraft.

According to the announcement, Air Hamburg is “the largest private jet operator by number of flights across Europe, organizing over 18,800 flights for its clients in 2021, and it is second only to Vista in terms of hours flown, recording over 35,000 hours in 2021. As a result, Vista expects an increase of around 30% in flight hours (on a combined basis) globally following the completion of the transaction.”

“Today’s announcement brings a renowned institution of the European private aviation market into the Vista group and complements our growth and service offering across Europe and the Middle East. Air Hamburg is an impressive, well-established, and profitable business with a long-standing track record in best-in-class client service — like Vista, it is known for its reliability and consistency throughout a scaling fleet and high utilization,” said Vista Global chairman Thomas Flohr.

Included are Air Hamburg’s operating platform and maintenance services, along with its Executive Handling division and VIP lounge at Hamburg Airport. The only entity not part of the deal is the flight school, Flugschule Hamburg.

Air Hamburg’s management will remain in place, and its 650 employees will join Vista. Included is Air Hamburg Technik, a related MRO.

Air Hamburg fleet

According to its website, Air Hamburg operates a floating fleet, led by 21 large-cabin Embraer Legacy 600/650/605Es. It also has three Dassault Falcon 7Xs and a pair of Embraer Lineage 1000E VIP airliners.

There are also eight midsize Cessna Citation XLS+ and five Phenom 300s.

Addition aircraft include a pair of Praetor 600s, a Legacy 500, Legacy 450, and a CJ3 light jet.

According to the announcement, the deal is expected to close in the first half of the year.

It follows Wheels Up’s agreement to buy Air Partner in January and the acquisition of Alante Air Charter this month.

To start the year, Private Jet Services bought Keystone Aviation in a deal called “the first of many.”

VistaJet parent leads private aviation consolidation

Vista was recently in talks with Jet Edge, the seventh-largest U.S. charter operator.

Read: Private Aviation Deal Book M&A Report

Since September 2018, Vista has acquired stakes in U.S. operators XOJet Aviation, Red Wing Aviation, and Talon Air. It also acquired brokers JetSmarter and Apollo Jets. Its XO brokerage unit is the result of merging Jet Smarter’s assets with XOJet’s brokerage business.

Its flagship VistaJet unit is taking delivery of 23 Bombardier Global 7500s and Challenger 350s during 2021 and 2022.

A press statement said, “The merger is the latest step in Vista’s relentless transformation of the highly fragmented business aviation ecosystem.”

The impact on the rest of the industry is unclear.

Independent brokers say after Wheels Up and Vista’s previous acquisitions, their fleets were prioritized for members of their own jet card membership programs as demand surged to record levels.

Recently Flohr said private aviation has undergone “a paradigm shift.” He expects sustained demand to remain through 2023. Argus TraqPak predicts another record year for 2022.

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