Avinode and CharterX merge

 - March 29, 2010, 7:37 AM

Avinode and CharterX are joining forces to form what will be the executive charter market’s largest online portal. Avinode is buying out the CharterX shares for an undisclosed sum. The deal should be closed by early this month, at which point the two companies’ technical teams will start integrating the rival systems.

According to Avinode chief executive Niklas Berg, the merger will mean that aircraft charter operators and brokers will have to use only one site to trade in a global marketplace, saving time by not having to update data to two separate sites. Avinode has become the leading online portal in Europe, while CharterX has been the market leader in the U.S. Now the two companies want to extend the reach of their combined charter data and booking request platform into key emerging markets for charter such as the Middle East and Asia.

The Avinode system currently processes up to 55,000 charter requests per month. It includes data for about 85 percent of Europe’s charter fleet, listing some 3,000 aircraft in total. According to CharterX, its database includes up to 15,000 aircraft from as many as 116 countries.

“We have been on parallel tracks for many years, trying to establish a global market,” Berg told AIN. “This is also about creating the next-generation marketplace, and we have decided that we will reach further and faster together. This is only the beginning. We will continue to invest in the system.”  

Trenton, N.J.-based CharterX is to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Avinode, which is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, and has a U.S. subsidiary in Miami. CharterX subsidiary Wyvern, which provides safety audits for aircraft operators, will continue to trade as an independent entity. The Avinode site currently includes data from rival auditing group Argus.

Berg said that customer reaction to the proposed merger has been positive, despite the possible perception that the move will give the combined company a dominant market position and therefore reduce competition. “It is our strong belief that the customers will benefit the most from this,” he told AIN. “Customers have told us they are relieved that they will have to update aircraft information and hourly rates in only one place and that their staff can deal with just one system.”

Following the closing of the merger, the two companies will be able to exchange customer information. They intend to offer a new bundled subscription for the combined system. “The idea is to provide more value, and you can’t charge more than the value you are bringing [to the market],” concluded Berg.