Multi Service Technology Soultions, a billing and payment company, has bought a majority stake in Avinode, the leading air charter marketplace. Multi Service is owned by World Fuel Services.
The price and stake have not been disclosed but Niklas Berg, co-founder and CEO of Avinode, says the founders will stay at the company and continue to own a significant number of shares.
“We have not sold because we want to go to the beach,” says Berg. “What we wanted to do is build the best foundation for the long-term future for Avinode and SchedAero. We love what we do and will continue to stay doing it.”
Berg adds: “Although we have lots of ideas, our focus is on continuing to make sure that Avinode is the key business-to-business market place for aircraft charter and that SchedAero is the best aircraft & crew flight scheduling software for operators.”
Avinode Marketplace gives charter brokers access to more than 3,000 aircraft.
“Avinode represents a best-in-class offering that brings exciting technological advances to this important sector of our industry. This will be a key strategic addition to our product offering and yet another way to add value for our customers in the general aviation industry,” shared Brandon Spear, COO, Multi Service.
Multi Service was founded in 1978 to provide payment and software systems for fleets of cars. It now offer these services for aircraft operators, shipping companies and governments.
“We have been approached lots of times by other companies – including customers – but only recently did the board sit down and decide that the long-term future of Avinode and SchedAero would be better with a strategic partner,” says Berg. “Multi Service is – like us – fundamentally a tech company so we are excited to see what we can build.”
Avinode was launched in 2002 by Berg, Niclas Wennerholm and Per Marthinsson whilst they were students at Gothenburg’s technical university. The trio originally planned to launch a light jet operator but felt that the it would need a more efficient charter-marketplace. One of their professors told them that they were being too ambitious and should only pick one of their ideas. They decided to focus on the marketplace and in 2002 launched Avinode after getting commitments from a number of operators and charter brokers.
Few products have changed the business aviation market as much as Avinode. Before its marketplace launched, charter brokers would call round aircraft operators to see if they had aircraft available for charter. Avinode now allows brokers to submit requests and – in many cases – see where aircraft are.
In 2010 the company acquired Charter-X, a US charter marketplace, which was its biggest competitor. It now handles 200,000 charter requests every month.
The deal only closed in mid-December, so many of Avinode’s staff had already left the office before it was announced. “It has been a very intense process,” said Berg. “We had a closing dinner last week but we were all tired. I think we are all ready for a bit of a break and then will come back in the New Year to celebrate properly.”