Though no orders have been placed, Vista Global Holding, owner of VistaJet, which owns and operates an all-Bombardier large-cabin charter fleet, may buy up to ten Global 7500s, Ian Moore, VistaJet COO, said at MEBAA 2018.
“We haven’t decided how many we’re likely to take, but there’s zero commitment,” Moore said. “It’s a $70 million aircraft, and we have to be careful not to burden the company [with debt]. If you ask me what I would like: between five and ten 7500s in the future.”
Thomas Flohr, VistaJet founder and chairman, holds several delivery position options in his name, Moore said.
Bombardier’s flagship Global 7500, which claims title as the world’s largest purpose-built business jet, is expected to enter service by year end. Any Vista Global-purchased 7500 would likely first go to individual entities through recently formed Vista Leasing, Moore said, before any would be added to VistaJet’s charter fleet. But Moore believes the model would find favor among the clientele of VistaJet’s product, particularly given the long-range missions the company’s fleet is designed to support.
“I fly a little with Thomas [Flohr] in this aircraft,” Moore said, sitting aboard the Global 6000, VistaJet’s current flagship, on static display (S34) at Al Maktoum International Airport during MEBAA 2018. “After 12 hours it starts to feel a little small. For that range, I think corporations and individuals will enjoy the 7500 and get used to paying [for it]. It will be a game changer for us, and certainly for Bombardier, as well.”
Were Vista Global to proceed with purchase plans, the first option would be exercised in the third quarter of 2019, and the aircraft would go on tour to showcase the aircraft to customers and potential customers. “We have no commitment,” Moore reiterated, “But I think financially it will make a lot of sense to take one; it would be a missed opportunity not to take one.”
The number of position options Vista Global has available results from a commitment Flohr made to Bombardier in 2012, Moore said.
The company has no plans to order the new Global 6500 or 5500—introduced at EBACE this year in tandem with the rebranded 7500 (formerly the Global 7000)—which are slated for service entry next year. “I have another 30 percent capacity in the fleet we already have,” Moore said. “We already have invested a lot of money, and my job is to sell into the fleet and deleverage the company as much as possible and bring down the debt to where we can push it off again if we need to. We can continue growing at 20 percent year over year, and we already bought the aircraft.”
Indeed, VistaJet, which previously placed an emphasis on owning aircraft that were under OEM warranty to keep operating costs down, has no plans to replace any aircraft in its fleet. However, “We have to keep refreshing the cabin,” Moore said. “We have to invest in the actual cabin experience.” He pointed to Vista Jet’s recently launched Wine Club. “We didn’t just decide one day [to start it]. Over 80 percent of our clients had wine as a hobby or passion. It’s important to make sure we’re relevant to our clients’ needs and passions.”
Looking back at 2018, VistaJet has enjoyed “another strong year,” Moore said, with operations numbers up 20 to 30 percent year over year amid growing diversification of its customer base. Regional growth has been strong in Egypt, the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
“We’ve been here quite some time, eight or nine years in the Middle East, and we really believe in this market,” Moore said. He noted VistaJet doesn’t face stiff competition in the region as “the usual players aren’t really here.” The company is adding staff to its office in Dubai Free Zone.
Among the attendees the company hopes to see at MEBAA: “People thinking about buying an aircraft,” Moore said. “The region is going through some interesting times. Maybe people buying their own aircraft want to see what happens the next couple of years economically and politically. We are the alternative to ownership. Our asset-light business model is resonating around the world.”
Vista Global recently purchased XOJet, which dominates the mid- and super-midsize cabin charter market in the U.S. with its owned and operated fleet of Challenger 300s and Citation Xs. Unlike VistaJet, XOJet’s charter service is aimed at value-oriented flyers. “We feel very strongly XOJet can be taken internationally, and we feel comfortable moving out to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia,” Moore said. “Which market first? It will be decided by the economics of the region.”
XOJet’s mid- and super-midsize fleet model will likely be maintained. “We certainly won’t go smaller,” Moore said. “Anything less than super-mid is a very tough place to make money.”
Vista Global now has more than 1,000 employees, hailing from over 50 nations.