The parent company of Vista Jet, Vista Global, has announced that it is buying JetSmarter, the private jet app and one of several companies referred to as the “Uber of Private Jets”.

Vista Global Holding was formed just last year, with a view to consolidating the business aviation market. The company moved quickly announcing its acquisition of XOJet in October and is now adding JetSmarter.

JetSmarter Background

Since its founding in 2012 by Sergey Petrossov, JetSmarter has grown rapidly, although not without contention. A hallmark of the service has been its phone app, through which members can book their own flights or can arrange shared flights or join the flights that other members have created.

Petrossov grew the membership using a strong dose of celebrity endorsement and incredible deals. Some of the membership levels offered free flights and even free helicopter transfers. The company had raised well over $100m in private equity and venture funding, but industry insiders would look at the offers and operations and wonder how these made economic sense. Meanwhile, vocal members expressed displeasure at the frequently changing terms of their membership deals. And the company gained a reputation for using legal threats and lawsuits, to try and silence both its members and the media from expressing any dissension.

The company is thought to have about 8,000 members. While in the Google Play store and in the Apple App store the JetSmarter app has been downloaded two million times.

JetSmarter has had a partnership with XOJet since 2016. This gave JetSmarter members access to the XOJet fleet of Challenger 300 and Citation X super-mid jets. It also gave XOJet visibility into the JetSmarter technology platform and app.

“Today’s acquisition is an important milestone for Vista Global – accelerating and executing our vision of digitizing the entire private aviation offering. Customers today want speed, reliability and value, which in today’s world is only possible with technology,” said Thomas Flohr, Vista Global’s Founder and Chairman, and continued “Vista Global’s reach and infrastructure will take JetSmarter to the global stage to fully realize its potential. JetSmarter’s technology will digitalize Vista Global’s market-leading customer offering to Program Members and On Demand customers.”

JetSmarter App

Current JetSmarter Offering

As of today, the company website says it offers two options:

  1. Pay-as-you-go which lets you book flights at non-member rates and create flights worldwide
  2. JetSmarter Membership for $2,500/year, which offers a number of features including: create on-demand shared & private flights across the globe, guaranteed availability with 24-hour notice on private charters and discounted member pricing.

A Vista Global spokesperson told SherpaReport “Vista Global acquired JetSmarter to create a global On Demand digital marketplace. JetSmarter’s innovative technology will accelerate Vista Global’s digitization strategy.” The spokesperson continued “Vista Global has already benefited from a successful partnership with JetSmarter through its XOJET brand. JetSmarter will now incorporate Vista Global’s aviation technology platform, TechX. JetSmarter’s platform will also be integrated into the back-end technology of Vista Global’s brands VistaJet, Vista Lease and XOJET.”

There’s no word yet on who will be running the JetSmarter service and brand under the new Vista Global ownership. But any announcements regarding Sergey Petrossov have been conspicuous by their absence, which sort of suggests he may not be involved.

The Vista Global spokesperson told us “No final decisions on personnel have been made at this time. Following the transition, Behdad Eghbali, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Clearlake Capital, the lead investor in JetSmarter, will join the Board of Vista Global.”

VistaJet Global 6000

SherpaReport Opinion

In addition to the technology, Vista Global is acquiring a community of several thousand wealthy individuals who want to fly privately, and who are very comfortable using an app to book and organize their flights. Plus, it has access to the millions of other people who have downloaded the JetSmarter app for free.

Building a community like this has always had some allure as a starting point to redefine private aviation business models. The challenge for JetSmarter was its constantly changing membership offers. The sort of folks who fly privately expect a high level of service, and the changing terms and conditions caused ongoing frustrations among this wealthy base. In comparison, VistaJet has an impeccable reputation for both its aircraft and its service levels.

If Vista Global fixes and standardizes the membership terms at JetSmarter, it could be on to a winning model.

The spokesperson at Vista Global suggested that this is the direction they plan to take, saying “JetSmarters growing customers base will have access to a wider fleet, wherever they are in the world, and enjoy the highest standards in private aviation as they join the Vista Global family. They will significantly benefit from Vista Global’s unparalleled customer service and an unmatched in-flight experience, while frequent fliers will be rewarded with preferential rates through a simple seat-sharing membership model.”

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