NetJets increases its dominance as Flexjet, Wheels Up, and Vista Global continue their chase as the largest private jet charter and fractional operators
NetJets, Inc. handily kept its perch at the top of the mountain as the largest private jet operator when it came to flight hours by charter and fractional operators.
The data from Argus TraqPak shows the unit of Berkshire Hathway had a healthy 9.6% increase in 2022 flight hours compared to 2021.
NetJets’ gain of 52,324 flight hours in 2022 over 2021 would have, on its own, ranked as the fifth-largest operator.
Its 598,477 flight hours are equal to the next five largest companies combined.
Behind NetJets, Inc. (which includes NetJets, Executive Jet Management, and U.S. flights by NetJets Europe), the second, third, and fourth spots remained static.
Directional’s Flexjet, Inc. was second, followed by Wheels Up Experience and Vista Global.
Our numbers roll up each of their parent company’s operators, so before you get to the data, let’s talk about how we get to the numbers.
We use this analysis to combine operators under their corporate parents, something that is becoming more important with all of the industry’s M&A activity.
As noted, that means adding Part 135 operator Executive Jet Management, a NetJets Inc. company, together with NetJets U.S. and NetJets Europe’s flights to/from the U.S. It also means summing VistaJet, Jet Edge, Air Hamburg, Red Wing Aviation, Talon Air, and XOJet flying under Vista Global Holding.
Aircraft arrival and departure information is included on all IFR flights in the U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii), Canada, and the Caribbean. That means flights from Vista’s Air Hamburg and VistaJet’s Malta AOC in the North American region are added to the total, and the same for other operators. They are noted at the bottom of the chart below.
We also update the 2021 numbers below to include acquisitions. That means in the 2021 numbers, we’ve added in flight hours for acquisitions. Vista’s 2021 numbers include its acquisitions Jet Edge and relevant Air Hamburg flight hours. The same for Wheels Up and Alante, Jet Linx and Southern Jet, and Priester and Mayo.
Lastly, it’s important to understand the limits in tracking for aircraft flying under Part 135, which you can read more about here.
Private Jet Charter Brokers vs. Operators
What do we miss?
This data is for operators and doesn’t count off-fleet brokerage flight activity.
As an example, in addition to its operator Flexjet, in the U.S., Directional Aviation owns jet card broker Sentient Jet and on-demand broker FXAir (via OneSky Flight, which is changing its name to Flexjet, Inc.).
In 2022, we estimate they combined for over $500 million in revenues off-fleet on other operators. That’s not included. Based on an average hourly rate for jet cards at the beginning of last year, that could be around 50,000 flight hours.
Likewise, a considerable amount of sales for both Wheels Up and Vista’s brokers, XO and Apollo Jets, are onto third-party operators.
In other words, this list reflects flight hours on fleets that are part of the corporate parent, not additional brokered flights.
Biggest Private Jet Companies
Behind NetJets, Flexjet held serve in the second spot with 183,548 flight hours, a 3.1% year-over-year increase.
It increased the gap between it and third-place Wheels Up Experience to just over 15,000 flight hours despite the latter adding light jet operator Alante Aviation and its dozen light jets to its totals.
Top Private Jet Operators – Full Year 2022
|Rank 2022 (2021)||Parent/Brand||2021
|3 (3)||Wheels Up*||175,440||167,641||-4.4%||5.7%||3.0%|
|4 (4)||Vista Global*||148,094||151,192||2.1%||5.1%||2.7%|
|8 (7)||Jet Linx||45,365||35,676||-21.4%||1.2%||0.6%|
|11(14)||Corp. Flight Management||14,284||19,310||35.2%||0.7%||0.4%|
|23(19)||Hop A Jet||11,682||9,292||-20.5%||0.3%||0.2%|
with data from Argus TrakPak. *NetJets, Inc. includes NetJets Europe and EJM; Flexjet, Inc. includes Flexjet and Flairjet; Jet Linx Aviation includes Southern Jet; Priester Aviation includes Mayo Aviation; Vista Global includes Air Hamburg, Jet Edge, Jet Select, Red Wing Aviation, Talon Air, VistaJet, XOJet; FlyExclusive includes Sky Night; Wheels Up includes Alante
Wheels Up saw flight hours drop 4.4% to 167,641, according to the Argus data.
Vista Global saw flight hours increase by 2.1% to 151,192 hours, cutting the gap between it and Wheels Up. That includes its Jet Edge and Air Hamburg acquisitions in both the 2022 and 2021 numbers.
Solairus Aviation jumped from 9th to 5th, while PlaneSense held serve at 6th.
FlyExclusive fell back from 5th to 7th, while Jet Linx dropped a notch from 7th to 8th.
Airshare moved from 10th to 9th, while Nicholas Air moved up two spots and cracked the top 10 for the first time.
New to the 2022 list
There were five new companies on our list of the biggest U.S. private jet companies.
Lincoln, Nebraska-based Silverhawk Aviation entered the 20th spot with 18.8% growth. El Paso, Texas-based ATI Jet placed 24th, while Chicago-based Priester used its acquisition of Mayo Aviation to enter at 25. Cleveland-based Sky Quest ranked 27th, while Miami-based 2020 start-up Verijet was 30th.
Cirrus SF50 operator Verijet had a 220.6% year-over-year increase. Fractional operator Jet It saw a 63.9% spike in flight hours, while Jet Aviation, a unit of General Dynamics, posted a 53.7% increase.
Corporate Flight Management 35.2% increase. Superior Transportation Associates, known as STA Jets, grew flight hours by 31.3%.
Other big percentage gains were had by Solairus Aviation (+25.9%), Berry Aviation (+22.9%), Nicholas Air (+19.8%), Silverhawk (+18.8%), Airshare (+14.7%), and ATI Jet (+12.9%)
The Long Tail of Private Aviation
We’ve already covered that NetJets, Inc. is cemented at the top of the hill when it comes to flight hours.
That may not be the be-all, end-all as it appears.
Seventy percent of subscribers to Private Jet Card Comparisons say they are open to considering boutique providers.
Going back to the data, despite NetJets’ dominance, it accounts for just 20.3% of charter and fractional hours and 10.9% of all U.S. private aviation flight hours.
In fact, the 30 largest private jet companies on our list account for just 52.8% of Part 135/91k hours and 28.3% of the overall U.S. business aviation market.
What’s more, despite all the M&A, the top 10 companies on our list saw the share of the 135/91k market fall from 45.1% in 2021 to 44.8% in 2022.
By contrast, the 10 largest airlines in the U.S. (Part 121) control over 90% of the market.
In other words, the long tail of private aviation appears to be quite strong.
With around 2,000 Part 135 operators, including over 600 with jets, it’s likely there will be more deals.
However, with only about 60 operators that have more than 10 jets, the Argus data suggests only significant consolidation can come is if some of the biggest providers combine.
Thomas Flohr recently said he plans to triple his global fleet to around 1,000 aircraft by 2030. However, he didn’t specify a mix between new aircraft and acquisitions.