VistaJet’s total membership hours sold in the Middle East were up 60 percent year-over-year in the first half of 2022, well ahead of a 43 percent increase in this metric globally over the same period, VistaJet chief commercial officer Ian Moore said in the run-up to the MEBAA Show.
“The one thing that’s been really driven in the last five years, in particular, is that the Middle East customer base is now far more accepting of a shared model because of the efficiencies it brings, and because they’re expanding their businesses, not just in the Middle East, but in other locations around the world,” Moore told AIN.
“They’re looking for a global proposition, and for a consistent service at the highest level. We feel very comfortable and very bullish actually about the region. In general, the Middle East is well placed with what’s going on in the world today, and we’re seeing continued strength in our business model in that region,” he said.
VistaJet is owned by Dubai-based Vista Global Holding, which oversees the entire Vista fleet. Vista claims to have invested more than $4 billion in new aircraft in the past decade; it ordered 10 super-midsize Challenger 350s in April 2021, most for delivery this year. There are 16 Global 7500s in the VistaJet fleet, with two more to be added by year-end. Additionally, Vista acquired Germany’s Air Hamburg and U.S.-based Jet Edge earlier this year.
“During the first six months of 2022, Vista added more than 100 aircraft to the fleet, both through the two acquisitions and scheduled fleet deliveries,” a company spokesperson said. “Between now and the end of the year we are expecting a further six aircraft deliveries, including two additional Global 7500 jets. Today, Vista clients have access to a members’ fleet of over 360 aircraft.”
Worldwide, Moore said aircraft ownership was more prevalent in the 2000s or 2010s and has now become less of a demand, even in the Middle East—a region long associated with the need to possess the asset. “I would say the trend has been more that the Middle East has accepted the efficiencies from a cost, but also from a service and an availability, perspective,” he said.
He added that VistaJet’s regional performance was important because its business was a subscription-based model that lasted for multiple years. “It’s not one-off flights,” he said. “People are committing to us for multiyear periods. We feel that [growth in the Middle East] is a great indicator, again, not just for the industry, but I think very much for our business and our business model, and how it’s resonating in the region. It’s probably the best number I can give you.”
Moore denied Middle East customers were more discerning or difficult to please than those from other parts of the world. “I’d be going down both the Middle East and the rest of the world’s clients to say that they are any less or more demanding,” he said. “I think the kind of clientele that we have and the people who can afford to fly with our products are very demanding because that’s what they can have with their wealth status and need for our product. I wouldn’t suggest there are any particular criteria.
“More importantly, I think in the past, a lot of people thought the Middle East customer wanted to own their aircraft. Our business model certainly means you have to be in a shared concept and look at cost efficiencies rather than having a trophy asset.”
Many of VistaJet’s clients are in multiple businesses and industries. “I’m talking about financial investment, not the finance industry; about direct investment into different industries,” he said.
“Businesses in the Middle East in particular are very much expanding their horizons outside of their countries and regions, and they’re doing that through investments,” Moore continued. “I wouldn’t think there’s much difference between one region to the next. Maybe technology is a little bit swayed toward the U.S. There’s also a tech hub opening up in the Middle East as well, so it’s difficult to generalize.”
Moore said most of Vista’s Middle East business was local. “The majority of our Middle Eastern contracts are from the local community, not from international businesses based there.”
He would not be drawn on the question of possible orders for the Global 8000, which Bombardier announced at EBACE earlier this year, and which could replace Global 7500s in future years.
“We are very excited about the Global 8000 and what that means,” he said. “It gives us that option to transition our aircraft across should we choose to do so. It’s a 2024 or 2025 possibility. We’ve not made any decision as of today, but more innovation in the industry is always a good thing.”
VistaJet has a large MEBAA Show presence, with an exhibit stand and the VistaJet and XO brands in attendance. “We’re looking forward to meeting with both the industry and our clients,” he said. “It’s always a popular end-client show, which is exciting. Other shows can be a little more industry-focused. This is always an exciting time as we’ve been there every year, and we have a large office based in Dubai. We’re looking forward to meeting our customers, colleagues, and industry peers at MEBAA.”