The Air Group joins Sentient Jet stable

 - February 7, 2008, 5:45 AM

Sentient Jet Holdings has continued its pattern of aggressive growth with the purchase of Van Nuys, Calif.-based The Air Group. While the terms of the deal were undisclosed, a source familiar with the transaction told AIN that the agreement will bring more than 20 additional aircraft under Sentient management, as well as increase Sentient’s visibility in the bustling Southern California market.

“Beyond the physical operations, The Air Group was attractive to us for several reasons, including a tremendous reputation in the marketplace and a loyal customer base,” said Sentient CEO Steve Hankin. “This acquisition further strengthens our aircraft management experience and provides us with one of the largest and highest-quality fleets for charter customers.”

As part of the deal, Sentient will gain new facilities at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport, including 60,000 sq ft of hangar space and a new customer facility, which will soon be home to Sentient’s relocated headquarters. Also included is a new facility at Van Nuys Airport that is scheduled to open this spring. The Air Group will continue to operate as a subsidiary of Sentient, and its current management is expected to remain in place. “Being a part of Sentient will increase the value we bring to our longstanding aircraft owners and the charter clients we serve,” said The Air Group president Jon Winthrop, who will continue to lead operations in Van Nuys.

With this addition–along with Sentient’s acquisitions of Atlantic Aviation Flight Services and TAG Aviation USA’s aircraft management operations–the Weymouth, Mass.-based company has quickly become one of the nation’s largest aircraft management groups, with more than 250 aircraft under its control. The company recently sent a letter to its clients detailing its efforts to streamline its certificate holdings and any possible effects they might have on their operations.

“Since May of 2007, we have been working with the FAA to plan and implement the consolidation of our multiple Part 135 operating certificates into a single entity,” said Hankin. “The FAA embraced our efforts and we agreed on a detailed consolidation plan that continues to proceed smoothly.” According to Sentient, it has received FAA approval for its primary operating certificate, which will be located in Weymouth, under the supervision of the FSDO in Portland, Maine. The company said it will be the only FAR Part 135 certificate with an FAA-accepted safety management system and air transport oversight system, which would bring Sentient to the same level of safety oversight as any FAR Part 121 scheduled airline. The company is advising customers that the only change they will see is a new company name on some of their documentation; it will have no other impact on their aircraft operations.