|Fleet size||72 jets, 1 helicopter|
|Company slogan||Simple. Efficient.|
VistaJet is a global business aviation company founded in 2004 by Thomas Flohr. The firm flies government, corporate and private clients between any two points, under a "pay for hours flown" fare structure.
The firm's privately owned fleet consists of 72 mid-to-large-cabin, ultra-long-range Bombardier Global and Challenger business jets, and a helicopter. To date it has flown to 187 countries, 1600 airports and has served over 300,000 passengers. Its headquarters are in Malta, with further offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Dubai. The company is one of the top five European unicorn companies by funding.
VistaJet has a European Aircraft Operating Certificate (AOC) in Malta. In countries where airlines are obliged to fly domestically and cannot be the majority owner of an AOC (e.g. the US), VistaJet partners with local operators.
VistaJet was originally named Air Executive when Flohr founded the business in 2004. Its then-headquarters were in Switzerland, with operations in Austria.
In 2003 Flohr bought a plane for his own use. He was able to buy this plane and subsequent planes at discounted rates, as sales for private jets had severely weakened post-9/11, a development which Flohr has since attributed as key to the subsequent growth of the business, along with expansion in Eastern European markets and a favourable dollar/euro exchange rate.
In 2004 Flohr placed his own plane with a small local operator. It was chartered out within two months, making it self-financing; this prompted Flohr to buy a second, bigger plane, which was flying 100 hours per month within three months of purchase. Flohr's interest in private aviation led him to commission a financial analysis of the industry. This study indicated a highly fragmented market, rather than a single global brand; it also indicated that many private jets for hire were in fact owner-operated, available for hire only when not in use by the owner.
To offer "not-subject-to-owner-availability" flights, Flohr needed to break away from the aviation industry's use of home bases, where privately owned charter planes must return to a fixed location in order to be at their owner's disposal. By dispensing with home bases, Flohr's jets could pick up a client from whichever airport was closest to the client's location at the desired departure time.
Flohr formally launched a three-plane fleet in 2005, with flights across the European Union and CIS region.
In 2008 the firm acquired Bombardier Skyjet International, effectively assuming control of the aircraft manufacturer's executive aircraft charter program, at the same time placing a US$1.2 billion order for 35 Bombardier business jets, reportedly Bombardier Business Aircraft's largest-ever single order. The deal included taking over Skyjet's bases in Farnborough, Dubai and Hong Kong, and made VistaJet the second-largest private jet company outside America. During this period the firm entered private aviation markets in Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East
In 2012, VistaJet placed a further order of up to 142 Bombardier Global 5000, 6000, 7000 and 8000 aircraft, with a potential value of $7.8 billion. In 2013, VistaJet placed a further order 20 Bombardier Challenger aircraft, with options for another 20, in a deal worth around $518 million.
The firm expanded its service to America in September 2013 via a partnership with Jet Aviation Flight Services, who initially operated a fleet of Bombardier Global aircraft on VistaJet's behalf. The move was part of VistaJet's strategy to target former and current fractional ownership customers in the US, as well as full aircraft owners.
By 2014 VistaJet had flown over 150,000 passengers. In the same year the firm opened a representative office in New York. In 2015, VistaJet expanded the US fleet available to customers to include the Challenger 350 aircraft, then operated by Priester Aviation.
In March 2015 VistaJet sold its final remaining LearJet 60, ending the company's association with light jets, and began to exclusively operate Bombardier Challenger and Global aircraft.
In 2015, VistaJet became the first international operator permitted to offer domestic flights in China. In ths same year the company co-published a book with Assouline, titled The Art of Flying.
In March 2016, VistaJet moved its corporate headquarters to Malta and took delivery of its 50th Maltese registered aircraft. The company announced adding its 70th aircraft to the fleet in October 2016. The fleet now stands at 71 aircraft and one helicopter.
In October 2017, based on growth in new customers and increases in flight hours from existing U.S. customers, VistaJet expanded its U.S. based fleet by 50%. In March 2017 the company surpassed 100,000 flights and launched a service to book flights by WeChat. In May VistaJet became the first firm in the industry to abolish positioning fees, making the cost of flying more transparent.
In August 2017 VistaJet announced a ground-breaking transaction with investment funds affiliated with Rhône Capital, which have invested $150 million of cash into the business. Together with secondary acquisitions, Rhône will have a $200 million stake in VistaJet, in a transaction valuing VistaJet's equity on a post-money basis in excess of $2.5 billion. Commenting on the announcement, VistaJet's Founder and Chairman, Thomas Flohr stated, "With the investment announced today, the equity valuation in excess of $2.5 billion and our fully scalable technology driven business model, VistaJet is ideally placed to take advantage of the opportunities to shape the market as it further develops in the years to come."
In November 2017 VistaJet announced a worldwide partnership with Christie's to sponsor the exhibition and tour of The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, the most significant auction entirely dedicated to raising funds for philanthropic causes. The tour took highlights of the Rockefellers collection to Hong Kong, London, Paris, Beijing, Los Angeles, Shanghai, ending in New York with the auction.
In September 2018, Vista Global, the holding company of VistaJet, announced it had acquired the fleet and commercial operations of the U.S.-based charter operator and broker XOJET.
VistaJet's business model is a "go-anywhere any-time" service, flying to destinations on demand rather than as part of a scheduled route. The jets are owned by the company and are hired out to clients at an hourly rate rather than leased.
VistaJet operates two passenger service offerings, named Program and Direct.
Direct sees customers requesting flights directly. It also grants access to preferential rates on empty legs and one-way flights, based on aircraft availability. VistaJet app launched in summer 2017; through the app customers can request flights or be notified about discounted rates for flights within a 2.5 day period where they can fly wherever they want.
Similarly, VistaJet's business model is a reaction to Flohr's experience of fractional jet ownership, where usage prices tend to be lower but the overall cost of ownership is potentially greater. Fractional owners have no secondary market to sell their fraction to, other than the original vendor, who sets the price and is, in effect, in a monopoly purchaser position.
Its current fleet includes:
- Bombardier Global 6000
- Bombardier Global 5000
- Bombardier Challenger 850
- Bombardier Challenger 605
- Bombardier Challenger 350
VistaJet is reportedly Bombardier's single largest customer. In 2012 the two firms completed the largest transaction in business aviation history, with VistaJet placing firm and option orders for 142 Bombardier Global business jets. The contract was valued at US$7.8 billion.
In 2013, VistaJet placed a firm order for 20 Challenger 350 jets and options for an additional 20 Challenger 350 jets, worth about US$1.035 billion.
In 2016 the fleet doubled to over 70 Challenger and Global aircraft and a helicopter.
The firm has commissioned artists for nose art projects, for example in 2011 the street artist Retna was commissioned to graffiti the tail of the firm's largest corporate jet, a Bombardier Global Express XRS, and in 2013 an Ian Davenport design was commissioned by VistaJet and Fabergé, for the tail of a VistaJet Bombardier Global 6000. The Davenport art piece coincided with a promotional campaign that saw Fabergé eggs offered to VistaJet clients as an in-flight jewellery purchase.
- Cave, Andrew. "The Man Who Could Prove Warren Buffett Wrong About Aviation". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
When you see the $55m asset of a major company sitting in a remote airport in Norilsk, Russia, or Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, it's not because somebody is on holiday, it's because a captain of industry, chairman or chief executive is considering a major investment.
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