Mega-deal: Vista Global agrees to acquire Jet Edge

By Doug Gollan, March 31, 2022

Vista Global is acquiring Jet Edge, the 8th largest operator in the U.S. measured by fractional and charter flight hours

Vista Global Holding is making its second major acquisition in 2022. It has reached an agreement to acquire Jet Edge, the 8th largest North American operator based on charter and fractional hours. It follows a February agreement to buy Air Hamburg. The possibility of the Vista-Jet Edge deal was first reported by Private Jet Card Comparisons last month.

“Vista’s commitment is to provide the most comprehensive range of flying solutions in private aviation. Today’s announcement brings significant value to our clients, with access to a further 100 aircraft, expanding our fleet at a time of unprecedented demand for business aviation services,” said Thomas Flohr, Vista Global’s Chairman.

He added, “Our vision is to provide the best services, anytime and anywhere, for every customer. Bringing Jet Edge, the fastest-growing large-cabin and super-mid on-demand company in the U.S., into the group scale up our presence in North America, giving Vista the opportunity to turbocharge growth in the most dynamic business aviation market. It also means expanding our offering and presenting our members with the chance to fly on the largest fleet of Gulfstream aircraft available for charter.”

Vista Global growth

With Air Hamburg, Vista Global’s fleet should grow to over 350 private jets by year’s end. Earlier this week, VistaJet took delivery of its 10th Global 7500. At the time, Flohr said he might accelerate deliveries in 2022.

Jet Edge clocked 40,704 flight hours in 2021, according to Argus TraqPak. That ranked it 8th on our list of biggest fractional and charter operators in North America. Vista said Jet Edge is on track to post around 60,000 hours this year.

Vista Global was already 4th on our list with 96,200 hours from its operators VistaJet, XOJet Aviation, Red Wing Aviation, and Talon Air. The latter three with broker mega-broker Apollo Jets are acquisitions since 2018.

Third place Wheels Up Experience tallied 166,805 hours. It added 8,377 from its acquisition of light jet operator Alante earlier this year. Yesterday, it said it is also taking a minority stake in seaplane operator Tropic Ocean Airways.

Directional, which also was engaged in discussions with Jet Edge early on, ranked second with 178,327 hours.

Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets Inc. flew 542,831 hours between NetJets and Executive Jet Management, its charter arm.

Vista only entered the U.S. market in 2014. Wheels Up was its sales agent before the company established its own sales organization.

Jet Aviation and Priester Aviation operated its U.S.-registered aircraft until it acquired XOJet Aviation in 2018.

Maintenance facilities

The deal brings Jet Edge’s West Coast Part 145 maintenance facility.

Supply chain and labor issues make repair facilities a prized asset, as we reported last August in “Record Demand Means A New Normal, New Rules For Private Jet Flyers.”

The acquisition will also provide branded lounges in Van Nuys and Teterboro, two of the four busiest private jet airports in the U.S.

In accord with U.S. DOT foreign ownership restrictions, XOJet Aviation, in which Vista holds a minority interest, will acquire a majority stake of the Part 135 certificates of Jet Select and Western Air Charter.

Vista will acquire Jet Edge aircraft, hospitality, and maintenance facilities.

The Jet Edge fleet is mainly a mix of large-cabin Gulfstream G450/GIVSPs, Challenger 605 series, and super-midsize Challenger 300 series.

Bill Papariella, the Jet Edge CEO, will join Vista’s executive team as Chief Business Officer. Jet Edge’s management team remains in place,

The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter, subject to customary closing conditions.

No terms were announced. However, Flohr said Jet Edge backer KKR will exit as part of the acquisition.

What’s next for VistaJet, Jet Edge and XO?

During an interview from his London office yesterday, Flohr said that the Vista and Jet Edge teams will work on synergizing the product line-up over the next several months.

Jet Edge only launched its first consumer membership program – Reserve – last year and quickly hit the $100 million sales mark.

It had been expanding discounted transcontinental and long-flight domestic pricing and was set to add guaranteed availability.

VistaJet offers a global guaranteed availability, fixed-rate jet card branded as the Program.

XO has a mixed line-up of membership types. Signature Access offers guaranteed availability with dynamic pricing. Elite Access has fixed-hourly pricing. Members and non-members are offered jet sharing and by-the-seat scheduled private jet flights.

One key area will be XO’s Elite Access fixed-rate program. It offers fixed hourly rates with guaranteed availability on light, midsize, and super-midsize aircraft. XOJet Challenger 300s and Citation Xs make up the core of the super mid offering. Like Jet Edge, it offers discounted long-flight domestic pricing.

Flohr said customers would continue to find a full line-up of product options. “Existing customers will have more choice,” he said.

Are more acquisitions ahead?

Earlier this year, Vista raised over $1 billion via an unsecured bond offering five times oversubscribed and attracted 229 financial institutions.

Asked if more acquisitions are in the offing, Flohr said, “We can do a combination of new (and used) airplanes when we feel it is opportunistic… In that context, we’re seeing potential acquisitions where we find opportunities to merge it into the Vista platform.”

In a written statement, Papariella added, “We are proud of the personal relationships we have built with each one of our Reserve Members and our Aircraft Owners. This has been the main driver behind our tremendous growth in the past few years, at a time when aircraft availability was at a historical minimum. We cannot wait to be able to offer them additional value through our integration with Vista. I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work of our teams, and I am excited about our long future together as a Vista company”.

So far in 2022, there have been 10 mergers and acquisitions involving charter operators and brokers, including four this week.

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