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Blade buys into Europe's helicopter charter market
Three established helicopter operators are to sell their routes and operations to Blade Air Mobility, which will become their only customer and apply its branding to multiple passenger terminals.
Read this story in our June 2022 printed issue.

Charter booking expert Blade Air Mobility, Inc. has agreed, through its wholly-owned European subsidiaries, to acquire the commercial passenger transport activities of three helicopter operators in Europe: Monacair SAM, Héli Sécurité and another leading operator in the South of France, for a total cash outlay of €48 million. The operators will retain their fleets, and Blade will develop branded passenger terminals at the multiple airports and heliports in France, Monaco and Switzerland that they use.

In effect, Blade will become the exclusive customer of the air carriers, as it offers branded charter and by-the-seat services. It aims to further develop the current route structures, and progressively introduce elecric urban air mobility vehicles in future.

The air carriers' April year-to-date charter business revenues and flight hours were each approximately 30% above the same period in 2019 as the post-pandemic recovery in travel has been strong in the region.

Damien Mazaudier, Monacair's CEO, will join Blade Europe's executive director, Sabrina Barbera, and Blade Europe's executive vice president of business development, Anne-Pascale Guedon, overseeing the transition of the air carriers' passenger businesses to Blade and will have an important role in launching Blade's European services. This executive team will also manage key personnel who have been running the day-to-day commercial operations of the air carriers and will now continue to do so for Blade.

“These three acquisitions are core to our strategy of leveraging our asset-light model to aggregate the premier use cases for urban air mobility. As a result, Blade has now amassed what we believe to be the most valuable routes in the world. Adding this formidable presence in Europe to our existing operations across the greater New York area, Vancouver and India, is a critical step in our expansion,” says Rob Wiesenthal, chief executive officer of Blade.

“Blade's powerful global platform, technology and brand together with Monacair's strong operating history, aircraft management business, strategic infrastructure and customer trust is an unbeatable combination that will amplify urban air mobility in Europe. On behalf of the Casiraghi family, we fully support and look forward to the European launch of Blade's commercial services commencing this month with the Monaco Grand Prix," adds Marco Casiraghi, co-founder of Monacair.

Blade's president, Melissa Tomkiel, says, “Blade continues to cement its position as the world's leader in urban air mobility with the addition of these routes in southern France, Monaco, Italy and Switzerland, which, given the geography, short distances and large addressable markets, serve as the perfect first-use cases for quiet and emission-free EVA. Our European expansion would not be possible without these trusted operating partners who have safely and profitably flown hundreds of thousands of fliers for over 30 years.”

“These acquisitions should contribute free cash flow on day one, accelerating our timeline to profitability while generating a great return on investment today that will only be enhanced by the future introduction of electric vertical aircraft,” comments Will Heyburn, chief financial officer of Blade. “Blade will now have unmatched scale in European urban air mobility, further diversifying our overall business.”

The transaction is expected to close by summer 2022, subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.

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