Wijet to buy Blink to create world’s largest air taxi company
Wijet of France will announce today (Tues 27 Sept) that it is to buy UK-based Blink, creating what the company claims is the world’s largest air taxi company, with a value of Euro 45m and 15 light jets.
The acquisition will provide a boost for the concept of air taxi services, which have at times proved a hard sell to investors and passengers alike. But the combined operation, with a total of 15 Cessna Citation Mustang four-passenger light jets, will go some way towards providing the efficiencies of scale that hold out the offer of lower pricing.
Combined revenues in 2016 are expected to be Euro 18m and Euro 28m in 2017, with 11,000 flights and 16,000 passengers. The two European air taxi pioneers will have bases in the UK, France and Italy, with the existing Blink operations and maintenance facilities remaining in the UK.
Utilisation of assets is key, says Chris Tarry, an independent aviation analyst. “Consolidation has been occurring in many sectors of the market,” he adds. “But it’s yet to be seen whether that alone is sufficient.”
Wijet, based in Paris and set up in 2009, has a simple, inclusive pricing model of Euro 2,400 per hour. It uses a real-time booking platform, OpenJet, which the new organisation will also use, and currently operates six Mustangs. A partnership with Air France allows it to offer the airline’s first-class passengers connections between Paris and 1,200 European airports. In 2015 it raised Euro 15m from 130 private shareholders.
Blink started up in 2008 at Farnborough airport in southern England, moving a few miles away in 2011 to the cheaper Blackbushe, and has operated an online booking system since 2010. It acquired MyJet in 2015, taking its fleet to nine Mustangs. This year its aircraft will operate about 5,600 hours, says Cameron Ogden, co-founder of Blink.
A new company, Wijet Group, will be formed to act as a holding company for Wijet France and Blink UK, headed by Corentin Denoeud of Wijet and Cameron Ogden of Blink as joint chief executives.
“Bringing Blink’s world-class operations expertise, well-developed UK, Swiss and Italian customer bases with Wijet’s French and Benelux customer base and fundraising acumen together will show the real power of the air taxi concept,” says Ogden. “Wijet Group is now well-positioned to increase the scale and breadth of its air taxi service throughout Europe.”