EBACE Convention News

Vista Global Touts Rising Sales and Air Hamburg, Jet Edge Additions

 - May 22, 2022, 8:11 AM
A VistaJet Challenger 350.

Vista Global Holding (Booth M91) arrives at EBACE 2022 on the heels of major acquisitions in Europe (Air Hamburg in February) and the U.S. (Jet Edge in March). The moves are the latest in a two-year string of roll-ups engineered to further the Dubai company’s goal of “providing the most comprehensive range of flying solutions in private aviation,” said Vista founder and chairman Thomas Flohr. Terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

The jets the two charter-management companies operate will augment the owned and operated charter fleets of Vista brands VistaJet, headquartered in Malta, and U.S.-based XO. Once the Air Hamburg and Jet Edge acquisitions close, these additions will bring Vista’s global fleet to some 350 aircraft, predominantly super-midsize, large-cabin, and ultra-long-range business jets.

Germany’s Air Hamburg—Europe’s largest private jet operator by volume of flights with more than 18,000 in 2021—has 44 aircraft under management. That includes a Dassault Falcon 7X, Embraer Legacy aircraft, and a Lineage 1000.

Vista expects operations at Air Hamburg, with some 650 employees, to add an estimated 30 percent to its annual flight activity. Last year, the German operators clocked imore than 35,000 flight hours.

Additionally, Air Hamburg’s EASA Part 145 maintenance hub at Baden Baden Airpark will add to Vista’s support infrastructure in Europe, as will the company's executive handling division and VIP lounge at Hamburg Airport, which will be available for Vista members’ use.

Jet Edge, based in the central U.S., operates a managed fleet composed primarily of Bombardier Challengers and Gulfstreams that logs more than 60,000 flight hours annually. Further, Jet Edge has what it claims to be the largest charter fleet of Gulfstream jets in the U.S.

The U.S. charter provider has grown aggressively since the beginning of last year, propelled by $265 million in funding from equity investment firm KKR. Twenty additional Gulfstreams and Challengers are scheduled to join its fleet in the first half of this year, bringing its stable to 95 aircraft.

Other recent Vista acquisitions include charter management firm Red Wing Aviation (2020), charter management/MRO provider Talon Air (2021), and charter broker Apollo Jets (2021), all U.S.-based. The corporate additions come on the heels of a record-setting 2021 that saw charter programs and services sales increase 59 percent year-over-year, while the number of hours flown grew 64 percent.

VistaJet, which operates an all-Bombardier fleet, sold 22,000 annual subscription hours last year—a 90 percent boost over 2020 figures. Memberships climbed 26 percent, benefitting from a market trend “to convert [from] aircraft ownership to the brand’s subscription model,” along with “a massive influx of business travelers choosing private aviation over commercial flying,” according to Vista.

Last year’s long-planned addition of the flagship Global 7500 to the VistaJet fleet was also “game-changing,” the company said. Customers have taken advantage of its 7,700 nm nonstop range on flights such as São Paulo to the Maldives (15 hours 43 minutes flight time), Los Angeles to Hong Kong (14 hours 50 minutes), and Abu Dhabi to Sydney (13 hours 30 minutes).

In late March, VistaJet took delivery of its 10th Global 7500, representing one-tenth of the type's in-service fleet, and anticipates having 17 by year-end.

With much of the pandemic era flight activity driven by personal, rather than business travel needs, VistaJet has enhanced and seen increased interest in its Private Journeys offerings—excursions designed to meet customers’ ultimate bucket-list desires, whether focused on Formula 1 racing, contemporary art, or exploring remote paradises. A number of these journeys have been aboard Global 7500s, the company said, enabling travel to destinations that would previously have been unreachable nonstop on a business jet.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based XO, which owns and operates a super-midsize fleet, increased memberships by 68 percent last year and saw an upsurge in the use of its digital booking tools. In fact, 84 percent of XO's flights were generated through its online marketplace.

Vista believes demand for private aviation is thriving and anticipates no change “for at least the next 12 to 18 months.” However, the company is mobilizing for the fight against climate change. In 2021 VistaJet began offering its clients global access to sustainable aviation fuel and expects to become “the first in the industry to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025,” the company said.

In January, Vista priced an offering of $1 billion of senior unsecured notes due in 2030 that were reportedly more than five times oversubscribed.