UK air taxi operator Blink has announced the takeover of Italian air taxi operator MyJet. The acquisition adds three Citation Mustangs to Blink's fleet, bringing it to a total of nine. The deal also provides Blink with an enhanced maintenance capability in the north of Italy to work in conjunction with its existing ops at Blackbushe airport.
The operator now has the use of key hubs including London, Paris, Nice, Geneva, Milan and other parts of northern Italy. Capacity will increase, and initially MyJet aircraft will operate under existing livery before gradually being brought under the Blink brand. Blink launched in 2008, having successfully completed a US$30m round of equity funding with European investors.
In addition, the operator has purchased Blackbushe airport, south of London, where it has been based for the last four years. This will allow it to deliver security of tenure and regulation of costs. Md Cameron Ogden says: “The acquisition of MyJet and the purchase of Blackbushe airport are further validation of what we set out to achieve with Blink when we launched.
"This is a demonstration that the European air taxi industry has come of age and that the much talked about period of consolidation has started. In MyJet we have a wholly complementary business that shares our passion for true air taxi ops.”
Ogden is looking forward to the commencement of operations in Italy. “MyJet is a branded company, also known as STC Aviation. The charter team manages sales across Italy, which are particularly strong in the northern regions. Another big part of the business is its maintenance operation for Mustangs, based in Genoa.
“While we plan to stay faithful to the character of Blackbushe, we also aim to improve its image as an airport made for business aviation users. At the moment there is no hangarage or FBO and we've decided that this is something we need to consider offering, although we are not committing to making significant changes in the immediate future.
“There is no doubt that the lower end of the air taxi market is very competitive. All three companies (Blink, Wijet, GlobeAir) are hurting the more traditional charter oper-ators because our business models challenge the status quo. Unlike most operators we will stay out and wait for a job to come and use the closest aircraft, limiting repositioning. This makes our business model significantly more profitable.
“Increasingly, we are finding that we are having to work harder to get people back into our jets from business class commercial flights, which was the market we were trying to speak to back in 2008 when we first started. Back then we aimed to get people out of British Airways club class and get them on to a Mustang. But the price point these days is still not low enough to tempt too much of that portion of the market.”
In Ogden's view the end user is more sensible nowadays with their choice of jet, and the fact that 80 per cent of charter flights are for two hours or less with two people on board makes the Mustang commercially appealing. “People have become very value orientated with aircraft. While many are used to a bigger product and they see the value of such a choice, it can be difficult to justify a midsize jet, which I think is the sector that has been hit hardest by the recession. A lot of that business seems to have trickled down, and we have certainly reaped those rewards.”