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India and Gulf tipped as key markets for private jet hire

Cabin crew member Anna Orszulik and pilot Wilfried Woelfel in a VistaJet Global 7500: the company offers 'an alternative to private jet ownership' Reuters/Steve Marcus
Cabin crew member Anna Orszulik and pilot Wilfried Woelfel in a VistaJet Global 7500: the company offers 'an alternative to private jet ownership'
  • VistaJet based in Dubai
  • Business uses subscription model
  • Industry worth $28bn in 2022

Private jet operator Vista Global Holding is expecting the Middle East and India to be its fastest-growing markets in the luxury aviation industry.

The Dubai company’s “pay for hours flown” platform, VistaJet, has a fleet of about 360 aircraft available at 24 hours’ notice.

“The most dynamic and fast-growing markets for us are the Middle East [and] India, and then we’re seeing Asia get up there as well,” said Youssef Mouallem, VistaJet’s executive vice president.

The global private jet industry was worth over $28 billion in 2022 and will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.2 percent from 2023 to 2033, according to business intelligence company Visiongain.

VistaJet’s fleet includes Bombardier Global 7500s that have a range of more than 14,000 kilometres and can carry 19 passengers.

It offers flights from 30 minutes to 17 hours non-stop, at 1,900 airports across 187 countries – a geographical footprint broadened by two acquisitions in the first half of 2022, both for undisclosed amounts.

The company bought Air Hamburg, Europe’s largest private jet operator by number of flights flown across the continent, in February last year. The following month it acquired US plane charter, management and brokerage company Jet Edge.

Mouallem said: “Our focus is on consolidating the fleet and the business and optimising operations across all these acquisitions and then pushing and accelerating our growth across our key growth regions.”

VistaJet’s most important routes include intra-US, Dubai-Riyadh, Dubai-London and London-New York.

Customers sign up to three-year subscription packages that guarantee them a minimum number of flying hours each year. There are three subscription levels: Program (50 hours), VJ25 (25 hours) and Corporate.

VistaJet’s XO service is closer to a ride-hailing app. While it does not guarantee availability within 24 hours, customers can book flights on a wider fleet of about 2,400 aircraft owned by Vista’s other companies.

“Our business is quite diversified and has a nice balance between the US and the rest of the global market,” Mouallem said.

Clients include senior management of corporations, who make up the largest customer group, governments and ultra-wealthy individuals.

“They’re looking for efficiency, for that ability to access different locations across the globe, and they travel frequently,” he said.

Subscriptions are calculated from official fuel price data issued by the International Air Transport Association, plus a surcharge or discount to reflect monthly changes to this price, again based on IATA data.

“The US is one of our biggest markets and it’s a big growth opportunity as well, given the scale and its sheer size,” Mouallem said.

“We’re mainly offering an alternative to private jet ownership and the biggest private jet ownership market is the US.”