The proposed merger of Northern Jet and SpeedBird will rank the combined private jet company among the 15 largest U.S. charter/fractional operators.
The deal, slated to close in Q2, also provides a succession plan for Northern Jet Founder and CEO Chuck Cox, who becomes Chairman of the combined company.
SpeedBird Founder and CEO Chris Bull will be the CEO of the new entity and oversee operations.
During an interview, they said no decisions had been made yet about the name of the combined company.
While plans still need to be mapped out, the merger should yield more jet card options.
Northern Jet and SpeedBird have been coordinating scheduling since January.
Northern Jet’s Florida Private Advantage Card targets flyers traveling between five Midwestern states and the Sunshine State.
Orlando-based SpeedBird flies mainly between Florida and the Midwest and Northeast.
While the Northern Jet program is based around the midsize Lear 40XR, SpeedBird brings six Citation CJ3 and two CJ2 light jets.
An expanded program will likely add a light jet option and more of the East Coast.
However, going national is not in the cards.
“We won’t be targeting customers in Los Angeles,” says Bull.
The combined fleets also provide opportunities in the super-midsize and large cabin segments.
Bull says the two companies had been talking since the middle of last year.
After they began coordinating schedules, it created an “ah ha” moment, reducing empty legs.
Cox says Northern’s jet card customers provided positive feedback about having a lower-cost light jet option.
Another area to could see an emphasis is fractional ownership.
Three of Northern’s Learjet fleet are fractionalized.
Bull says in addition to a cultural match, Northern Jet offers SpeedBird a retail window via its jet cards and fractional program.
At the same time, Cox says as his jet card program has grown, Northern has been using more third-party operators. He welcomes an expanded fleet will mean more on-fleet flying.
While Cox has spent his career in business aviation, Bull is a relative newcomer.
The media and technology entrepreneur was a business aviation consumer before getting into the business side of the industry.
He founded Heli Team in 2012 with a fleet of. rotorcraft specializing in agriculture applications.
He then bought a private jet for corporate use to visit locations, also putting it on his Part 135 certificate.
After finding it booked so frequently they needed to buy another airplane, he launched SpeedBird in 2018.
Heli Team will continue as a separate business.
With a fleet of 37 aircraft and around 20,000 hours, the Northern Jet/SpeedBird combination will rank among the 15 largest U.S. private jet operators based on charter and flight hours.