JSSI shows private equity still likes private aviation


Jet Support Serv : Neil Book shoot. Chicago IL. April 29, 2019 Photo by Andrew Collings.

Two years ago, JSSI got its first private equity investor: GTCR.  Last Friday it announced a second: Genstar.

Genstar, with $35bn under management, has bought out some of GTCR’s stake in the company. This is Genstar’s first business aviation deal.

“Genstar invests in four areas – financial services, software, industrials and healthcare – and we are their only investment which touches on three of these,” Neil Book, CEO, JSSI tells CJI. “It also means they have expertise that we can use to grow.”

Terms are not being disclosed but GTCR, which is keeping a stake, is likely to have got a good return. JSSI has seen large top and bottom-line growth in the past two years.

Although it has acquired two maintenance tracking software companies – SierraTrax and Traxxall – most of this growth has come organically from its maintenance programme and parts and leasing.

“We now track 3,500 aircraft tails through our software platform, giving us fantastic visibility on upcoming maintenance events, feeding our hourly maintenance programmes and parts and leasing businesses,” says Book.

GTCR understands business aviation well. It bought FBO company Landmark Aviation in March 2008 at the top of the business aviation market and managed to sell it for a profit in 2012. (Landmark was later sold to Signature Aviation which was taken private last year for $4.5bn). GTCR also acquired maintenance tracking company CAMP Systems which was sold to Hearst in 2016. It is also an investor in connectivity company Gogo.

“Since our investment in 2020 we have worked closely with Neil to accelerate JSSI’s growth,” said Craig Bondy, MD, GTCR. Genstar’s investment is a testament to the hard work of the JSSI team and the value proposition they deliver to customers.”

With more than $10bn of private equity invested in business aviation, 2021 was a record one. This year has not seen the same volume but is still set to be above average. In his excellent CJI Miami presentation Kenn Ricci, chair, Directional Aviation, said that there have been 92 private equity investments in business jet operators in the past five years (you can watch it here).

Book adds: “This investment from a top private equity firm demonstrates their confidence in the business aviation market.”