Private jet firm Vista Global continues its rapid US growth with a new deal to acquire Apollo Jets

VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500
A Bombardier Global 7500. VistaJet
  • Vista Global is planning to acquire Apollo Jets in a deal announced Thursday. 
  • The acquisition will give Vista Global’s XO access to Apollo Jet’s roster of 4,000 clients.
  • Vista will also offer aircraft management services through air carrier Talon Air. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Vista Global on Thursday announced a deal to acquire private aviation firm Apollo Jets in the latest bid to grow its US market share.

The acquisition will give Vista around 4,000 Apollo Jets clients and a fleet of aircraft currently operated by Talon Air, an Apollo Jets company. Vista sees the opportunity to convert Apollo’s customers into XO members and subscribers, paying extra for better rates and perks like complimentary aircraft upgrades. 

“The Apollo acquisition reinforces Vista Global’s unrivaled commitment to providing every business aviation client with the best value flying solutions around the world,” Thomas Flohr, Vista Global’s founder and chairman, said in a statement. 

Growth by acquisition has been Dubai-based Vista Global’s primary means of expansion in the US, starting with the purchase of XOJET in 2018 and continuing with JetSmarter in 2019. The two companies were merged under the Vista umbrella to create XO, solidifying Vista Global as one of the largest private aviation firms in the country.

In October, Vista also acquired Wisconsin-based Red Wing Aviation and its fleet of Cessna aircraft. The 15 light jets were incorporated into the XO fleet to provide customers with a more cost-effective option compared to the firm’s larger Cessna Citation X and Bombardier Challenger super-midsize aircraft

XO offers five types of membership that range from no charge to $US1,000 ($1,284) per month. A free membership still allows customers to book on-demand private charters but charges a $US395 ($507) per flight booking service while a paid membership waives that fee and includes dynamic pricing. 

Apollo Jets, alternatively, does not operate on a membership-based model and the firm’s charter brokers often receive a commission on the flight they book for customers.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw new travel trends better suited to larger operators like XO. Current Apollo clients will benefit, for example, from XO’s fleet of “floating” aircraft, or planes that have no fixed base and can perform one-way flights for a fraction of the cost that traditional operators can offer. 

First-time flyers are also entering the industry at a record pace and premium operators like XO are positioning themselves to attract as many new clients as possible. Dynamic pricing and technologically-savvy operations were identified by industry experts interviewed by Insider as two key factors to excel in the new era. 

Seat-sharing flights are also offered by XO where flyers only pay for their seat instead of the entire aircraft to help bring costs down, as Insider found during a tour of a 16-seat Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft used for flights between White Plains, New York and Miami

Vista will now be able to offer aircraft management services through Talon Air. The Farmingdale, New York-based Part 135 carrier boasts heavy jets like the Gulfstream G550 and Challenger 604, as well as the largest fleet of super-midsize Beechcraft Hawker 4000 aircraft in the US, that XO clients will be able to book.

Talon Air’s current aircraft owners and clients are confidential but the firm’s roster boasts the likes of Lebron James and Martha Stewart

Vista expects the acquisition to be completed in the first quarter of 2021 and projects flight activity will grow by 20% following the deal. The completed deal will continue Vista’s track record of at least one acquisition per year since 2018, which shows no signs of slowing. 

“I believe this is just the beginning of consolidation in our industry and Vista Global is leading this market transformation,” Flohr said.