Jet Edge Has Acquired 27 Private Jets After Securing $150 Million From KKR

Los Angeles-based Jet Edge International has acquired 27 super midsize and large cabin private jets. The announcement comes just a little over two months after the charter operator announced it had secured a $150 million line of credit from KKR.

The addition of 11 Challenger 300 and 350 super midsize jets, five large cabin Challenger 650s and 11 Gulfstream G450s was a surprise since the airplanes weren’t acquired in a single deal, but on a one-by-one basis beginning in January.

The move comes in a market where demand is outstripping supply. One aircraft broker says he was able to flip a Gulfstream jet like the ones Jet Edge picked up for a $5 million profit within a week.

Wayne Starling, executive director of the International Aircraft Dealers Association says, “We have buyers with funds to purchase, but demand for late model aircraft with attractive configurations exceeds supply.”

Jet Edge, which mainly manages aircraft for owners, and often buys jets and sells them to clients, who then make them available in its charter fleet, will hold on to its newest additions, says the company’s CEO, Bill Papariella. “We need all of  the capacity for our charter customers.”

Jet Edge is spending $1.2 million on the super midsize jets and $1.8 million on the large cabin aircraft, installing Gogo 4G streaming Wi-Fi, USB ports, Airshow upgrades, inflight entertainment options, sound systems, and Bluetooth connectivity. It is also debuted branded exteriors.

Papariella says the plan was originally hatched a year ago when he began to sense the surge in private flying was only going to increase. Since June, charter and fractional operators have been recording flying levels as much as 30% higher than 2019’s pre-pandemic levels. All of the newly acquired aircraft will be flying by the Christmas holidays.

However, that’s not all. Papariella says Jet Edge is working on its first-ever order for new jets directly from a manufacturer. The order will be for between 15 and 20 super mid and large cabin aircraft with deliveries to start by the end of next year.

The announcement comes as other large operators have either announced orders or signaled their intention to grow their fleets. Last week NetJets, the world’s largest operator of private jets, said it is adding 100 new aircraft by the end of 2022 after already taking 25 so far this year.

Flexjet, the second largest fractional operator behind NetJets, is doubling its Gulfstream G650 and accelerating deliveries across the board. In 2019, it placed a $1.4 billion order with Embraer for a mix of Phenom 300s and Praetor 500s and 600s.

In April, Vista Global Holding revealed an order for a dozen Bombardier Global 7500s and 10 more Challenger 350s for VistaJet. It also picked up a minority stake in Talon Air, adding 33 large, super-midsize, and midsize private jets. Last week officals told Aviation International News it is launching a European fleet for its XO brand with three Citation XLS midsize jets. Earlier today, it reaffirmed plans to triple the fleet of Red Wing Aviation, another operator where it has a minority interest.

In May, Lenexa, Kansas-based Airshare said it would add up to 20 new Challenger 350s, a deal at list price that is valued at $540 million. The company, which counts Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes as an ambassador, plans to expand beyond its current footprint which runs from the Rockies to Texas, the Midwest and Great Lakes region.

In June, Mike Guina, president of Kinston, North Carolina-based FlyExclusive, said the charter operator is looking grow its fleet from 72 aircraft with 40 to 50 preowned jets in the next 24 months. It is opening its own paint and refurbishment facility later this month

Jet Linx Aviation, which has been expanding through acquisition, announced earlier this week two new executive positions as it looks to step up its M&A activity.

Not everyone is jumping into the deep end of the pool. Oxford, Mississippi-based Nicholas Air, which tends to buy aircraft new, but in small increments, seems to be holding off for the moment. Its vice president Peder Von Harten says prices are “30-to-40% higher than the airframe is worth due to simple supply and demand economics.”

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