Thomas Flohr is clearly not a man who likes to feel the grass growing under his feet. No sooner had the billionaire founder of VistaJet announced the creation of an overarching, Dubai-based holding company – Vista Global – than, last month, the new entity concluded the purchase of on-demand operator XOJet. 

The acquisition augments VistaJet’s thriving U.S.-based business (see separate story) and ensures that Flohr’s companies are primed for further expansion in North America. And yet, according to Ian Moore – chief commercial officer of VistaJet for eight years, and newly installed in the same role at Vista Global – further takeovers are unlikely. 

“XOJet was the only company we were looking at – the only one we wanted to purchase,” he says. “We wanted to get into the North American market in a serious way in that on-demand branded sense, and it was only XO that we wanted. We were incredibly happy to be successful in that tender, and we have no interest in purchasing any more operations.”

Vista Global plans not just to use XO as a means of expanding its American operations, but also to make the relationship work in the other direction, too. 

“We want to take the XOJet brand global,” Moore says. “We really believe – and have spoken to enough clientele to know – that the operational capabilities and the services that XOJet provides will be incredibly successful outside North America as well.”

This also means that there are no plans to merge XOJet and VistaJet into a single entity. 

“There will be some integration on the back end, and some synergies in terms of purchasing power and those kinds of things,” Moore says. “But Vista Global has a full intention of continuing VistaJet and XOJet as separate brands. We don’t want to confuse the customer base on what product they’re getting, so it’ll be very clear that the companies will be run independently. XO’s been doing a great job operating in North America for some time, and we don’t have any intention of changing what they’re doing – just expanding and enhancing it as we go.”

Clearly, if further acquisitions are not envisaged, Vista Global has to be more than just a holding company or investment tool. Moore explains that the work the new company will carry out falls under four headings. One is the guaranteed-availability sector, where VistaJet has extensive experience; the second is in on-demand flights, which is where XOJet comes in. The other two divisions are Vista Leasing, created to enable Vista to win business from customers who want to own aircraft rather than just use them; and TechX, which will bring VistaJet’s technology platform and internal development capability to a wider customer and operator base.

“We feel this is a very under-industrialized industry, and incredibly fragmented,” Moore explains. “After speaking to many, many clients and prospects over the years we feel there are probably these four defined spaces we can fill by being a global player.”

It was through these conversations – particularly those with people who were reluctant to join VistaJet’s membership scheme because they preferred to have their own aircraft – that the vision for a leasing operation began to form.

 “VistaJet [membership] is asset-free, essentially; XOJet is asset-free,” Moore says. “Vista Leasing enables customers who want to own an aircraft to have minimal exposure on the operational lease side. There are megatrends around the world, less around purchasing heavy assets and more around the shared economy. Those three companies [enable us to reach] the full aircraft market, the guaranteed-availability market, and the occasional, more flexible flier.”

TechX will not see Vista developing bespoke systems to enable rivals, and potentially divert attention away from in-house requirements. Instead, the division’s offering will be more akin to the way Microsoft makes applications such as Word, Outlook or PowerPoint available to customers under annual subscriptions. In theory, it should position Vista Global at the heart of that fragmented industry, and help it to come together.

 “Because we already have the software that enables our current customers on VistaJet – and, in the future, XOJet – to communicate directly with us, we feel there’s a platform where we can go out to the marketplace and find a big consumer base that wants to connect not just with VistaJet and XOJet, but with the mom-and-pop operators out there as well,” he says. “There’s a huge piece of the pie we feel we can go after there as well. We already have the software – it’s just a matter of bringing that to the marketplace.”