Atlanta-based fractional jet company Volato has launched its aircraft management program after merging with Gulf Coast Aviation (GCA), a Houston-based aircraft management company that it purchased in March.
Volato’s executive vice president of business development, Tom Chapman, said closing the acquisition and launching the management division was an “important milestone” for the company’s growth. While many companies try to trim overhead costs by reducing overlapping staff in mergers and acquisitions, Chapman said he was especially pleased that Volato retained all GCA employees in the transition. That will help the startup as it looks to leverage GCA’s 25 years of aircraft management experience.
Now, through the newly branded Volato Aircraft Management Services, Volato has strategically gained access to a broader fleet, opening the door to customers in the larger charter market.
Like other well-known management programs, Volato’s offering will allow private aircraft owners to partner with the company to manage its aircraft through a bespoke agreement covering all aspects of ownership, including crew, payroll, maintenance, hangar accommodations, and reservations. Even amid a slower rate of aircraft purchases compared to 2020 and 2021, Volato hopes to tap into new aircraft owners who don’t intend to use their equipment all the time, so that it can offer on-demand services for other customers. The benefit for the owners comes from residual revenue through the fees they’ll earn from Volato.
That’s because Volato can also charter owners’ aircraft through GCA’s Part 135 operational certificate to generate revenue and offset costs. Volato says it will launch its management program focusing on HondaJets and select large-cabin aircraft, including Gulfstreams and Beechcraft King Airs. Recently, Volato CEO Matt Liotta announced that his company would offer first-year HondaJet captains $150,000 in a recent pay upgrade, and provide pilots stock options to share in the company’s growth.
HondaJet: A Market Favorite?
Since its launch in September 2021, Volato has aimed to corner the HondaJet charter market by ramping up quickly. In January, it announced that it ordered 15 HondaJets to add to its fleet through 2024 (to bring its total ownership to 22 HondaJets) and said it would expand its operation nationwide. Volato now has locations in San Diego, California; Houston, Texas; Fort Lauderdale and St. Augustine, Florida; and Baltimore, Maryland. It has also earned IS-BAO Stage 2 and ARGUS Platinum safety ratings and has an accident-free history. The company says it now plans to manage HondaJets from any location in the U.S.
According to figures released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), in December 2021, Honda Aircraft Company asserted that with 200 total deliveries, the HA420 series aircraft was the most delivered in its class five years in a row. However, it doesn’t distinguish how many of those jets went to North American customers, individual owners, or charter companies. However, one company that uses the HondaJet fleet for its business model—which Volato will have to compete with—is the fast-growing Jet It. As of January 2022, the fractional company Jet It was the largest HondaJet operator with 23 aircraft. It will probably look to stay ahead as Volato fills out its fleet through ownership and the management program.
Acquisition Pays Off for Volato
As for the management program, Volato says members will gain access to a concierge team to manage personal travel and access a range of aircraft for different missions, including the HondaJet fleet, financial savings enabled through economies of scale, and streamlined and timely reporting. The GCA acquisition has undoubtedly helped. In a statement, Clinton Holmes, Volato’s AMS president and former president of GCA, said, “In the four months since closing on the acquisition, we have increased our fleet by 40 percent.” He attributes that to Volato’s business model and the team’s experience. Volato’s fractional program focuses on missions of up to four passengers in a HondaJet Elite aircraft fleet and uniquely offers flexible flight hours and a revenue share.