|10 April, 2019

Dubai’s Vista Global agrees to buy Uber-style private jet booker

Vista Global, headquartered at the Dubai International Financial Center and run by the Swiss billionaire Thomas Flohr, is acquiring the US company for an undisclosed sum.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Cabin attendants from Japan Airlines (JAL) pose for the media in front of an Airbus A350 XWB aircraft after it landed for its market survey at Haneda airport in Tokyo November 19, 2014.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Cabin attendants from Japan Airlines (JAL) pose for the media in front of an Airbus A350 XWB aircraft after it landed for its market survey at Haneda airport in Tokyo November 19, 2014.

REUTERS/Toru Hanai

LONDON: Dubai-based Vista Global has agreed to buy JetSmarter which allows well-heeled travelers to book private jets on demand.

Vista Global, headquartered at the Dubai International Financial Center and run by the Swiss billionaire Thomas Flohr, is acquiring the US company for an undisclosed sum.

He said: “Customers today want speed, reliability and value, which in today’s world is only possible with technology.”

The acquisition underscores a trend of moving away from private jet ownership globally as more people choose to buy flying hours instead.

The Middle East has traditionally been a strong market for private jet operators with the Dubai Airshow a popular parade ring for planemakers and private jet charter companies.

But a regional economic slowdown, especially in the oil and gas sector, has hurt underlying demand for private jet services.

Founded in 2012, JetSmarter had planned to IPO and was valued at $1.6 billion just three years ago, but has since faced tough trading.

The equity swap deal is expected to complete in the second quarter of 2019 and it means that JetSmarter investors that include Clearlake Capital and Jeffries Financial Group will now become investors in Vista Global.

Vista competes with NetJets, part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway empire.

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