Thomas Flohr

Vista Global Holdings

What It Is: Dubai, U.A.E–based Vista Global Holdings is the parent of VistaJet, which owns and operates a bespoke charter fleet; XO, which offers private and per-seat charter aboard owned and brokered aircraft; and Vista Lease, which supplies long-term, ownership-like access to private jets.

How It Grew: After buying a business jet for his own use in 2003 and then generating charter income, Swiss entrepreneur Thomas Flohr commissioned a financial analysis of the business aviation industry and saw an opportunity in a company-owned, dedicated charter fleet. Backed by private equity investors, he founded VistaJet (née Air Executive) in Switzerland in 2004 and began operations with three aircraft in 2005. 

In 2008, VistaJet acquired Skyjet International, Bombardier’s charter arm, with bases in Farnborough, England; Dubai; and Hong Kong. The company also ordered 35 of the Canadian manufacturer’s Learjets, Challengers, and Globals, worth $1.2 billion. Steadily expanding outside the U.S. with ad hoc and block-hour charter services, VistaJet placed firm orders and options in 2012 for 142 ultra-long-range Bombardier Globals, worth up to $7.8 billion. It entered the U.S. market the following year via a Jet Aviation partnership and opened a New York office in 2014.

Vista Global Blends XOJet, JetSmarter into XO

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Vista Global Blends XOJet, JetSmarter into XO

The aim: to create a one-stop “digital jet marketplace.”

Exiting the light jet market, VistaJet sold the last of its Learjets in 2015 and the same year became the first international operator authorized in China to offer domestic charter flights. The company moved its headquarters from Switzerland to Malta in 2016, and the following year it surpassed 100,000 flights and abolished repositioning fees, an industry first. Also in 2017, VistaJet introduced Direct membership, offering discounted rates on empty legs and on one-way flights based on availability. 

In September 2018, Flohr launched Dubai-based Vista Global Holdings (VGH), a vehicle to acquire and build business aviation access companies, with VistaJet as its flagship. That same month VGH bought XOJet, owner/operator of a charter fleet of midsize and super-midsize aircraft and a brokerage service. In April 2019, VGH added JetSmarter, the per-seat charter pioneer and booking-app developer, to its stable. VGH combined XOJet and JetSmarter into XO in 2019.

What It Offers:

VistaJet. All-Bombardier fleet of some 70 jets (including Global 5000/6000 and Challenger 350/850) available for on-demand and block charter. Ancillary programs include onboard wine tastings, pet transport, and children’s entertainment. 

XO. Access options range from per-seat charter to high-end subscription-based corporate programs.

Vista Lease. Leases in Global 7500 twinjets.

Upcoming News: VistaJet will add the Global 7500 to its fleet in January, making it the first commercial operator of what is claimed to be the world’s largest and longest-range, purpose-built business jet.


FAST FACTS

Founded: 2004

Headquarters: Dubai, U.A.E.

Equity value: $2.5 billion

Founder and chairman: Thomas Flohr

Website: vistaglobal.com

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