As private aviation continues its strong growth coming out of the 2008 recession, investors are pouring increasing amounts of money into the industry.
Oil giant BP late last year announced a $10 billion investment in London-based private charter broker Victor, which uses approximately 100 part-135 operators, including Elite Air, to fulfill its clients’ needs.
“The digital revolution is changing the face of the energy industry, and BP is at the forefront,” David Gilmour, vice-president of BP technology business development, said in a statement. “We’ve now completed five deals in less than a year, and Victor aligns with our priorities around digital innovation and low carbon.”
Victor, which reported $39 million in revenues in 2016 and about $60 million last year, is just one of many private aviation companies seeing renewed interest as the economy ramps back up. JetSmarter, another online marketplace for chartered aircraft and a frequent customer of Elite Air, has been on a fundraising roll—the company has raised more than $100 million in roughly the last calendar year. And the owner of now-defunct Blue Star Jets has taken over StarJets International in the hopes of raising revenues to more than $100 million, according to Forbes.
Not all of the investments have borne fruit. Forbes also reports Zetta Jet, a Singapore based charter operator, filed for bankruptcy last September due to an unsustainable business model and alleged fraud among its top-level executives.
“I am more and more convinced that just as starting a commercial airline attracted alpha entrepreneurs during the 1980s and ‘90s, private aviation today is now luring the rich, famous and infamous who see it as both an opportunity and a lifestyle, sometimes both,” said Doug Gollan, Forbes contributor and aviation industry expert. But Gollan goes on to say that “clearly, getting to profitability and having a presence in the private aviation business, whether one actually owns and operates jets or is brokering them, is not easy.”