Looking at the hours flown by the largest part 135 charter operators, most providers have been holding steady or seen drops in the number of hours during the first half of 2023. There are a few exceptions where companies have increased their hours.
This fits with the trend of lower hours overall after the covid induced peaks in private aviation.
The table below shows the twenty largest aircraft charter companies ranked by number of flight hours in the first six months of 2023. The data is from aviation services company ARGUS.
|Operator||2023 Hours||2022 Hours|
|1. Wheels Up||70,253||82,478|
|2. Executive Jet Management||39,117||39,410|
|3. Jet Edge||29,011||14,069|
|4. Exclusive Jets||27,740||23,375|
|5. Solairus Aviation||26,265||26,437|
|6. Jet Linx||15,773||18,784|
|7. Corporate Flight Management||11,967||9,024|
|8. Jet Aviation||9,313||9,748|
|9. XO Jet||9,103||23,625|
|10. Clay Lacy Aviation||8,195||8,479|
|11. Aero Air||7,785||7,202|
|12. Red Wing Aeroplane||6,451||5,772|
|13. NXT Jet||6,424||6,093|
|14. Superior Transportation Associates||6,252||7,475|
|15. Great Western Air||5,584||5,648|
|16. Berry Aviation||5,485||6,977|
|17. Thrive Aviation||5,319||5,559|
|18. Worldwide Jet Charter||5,139||5,638|
|19. Talon Air||5,022||6,799|
|20. ATI Jet||4,534||4,755|
Wheels Up remains by far the largest Part 135 charter operator with 70,253 hours in H1 2023. This was quite a decline from the first six months of 2022, and was probably driven by the financial uncertainty surrounding the company. This uncertainty appears to have been solved just last week, with Delta Air Lines and co-investors effectively taking over the company and putting in $500 million.
Executive Jet Management (EJM) at number 2, is a NetJets company, and has been providing aircraft charter and jet management services since 1977. EJM manages over 200 aircraft, of which about half are available for charter.
Number 3. Jet Edge, 9. XOJet, 12. Red Wing and 19. Talon Air are all owned or controlled by Vista Global holding, parent of Vista Jet. It’s hard to read too much into the movements of the individual operators, as aircraft and flights may be moving from the operating certificate of one provider to another across the group.
Number 4. Exclusive Jets, operates as flyExclusive, and has been one of the fastest growing fleets of operators. It has over 90, mainly Citation aircraft, which are available through a membership program and through retail and wholesale charter programs.
Solairus Aviation at number 5 is one of the largest aircraft managers with over 70 base locations nationwide and a fleet currently numbering over 310 aircraft. Solairus manages these aircraft for third party owners, and its services can include aircraft charter sales.
At number 6, Jet Linx is another large aircraft manager, with over 100 aircraft managed from over 20 base locations. It also offers a jet card program providing access to this fleet.
Corporate Flight Management, also known as Contour Aviation, operates a diverse fleet of aircraft ranging in size from light jets to commercial airliners. In 2016 is also started Contour Airlines a regional commercial operator linking midsize markets using 30 seat aircraft.
Number 9. Jet Aviation, is a very large aviation services company and part of General Dynamics (GD (NYSE)). Globally it manages a fleet of almost 300 aircraft, and has 50 locations worldwide. In addition to aircraft management and charter it provides, maintenance, completion and FBO services. The charter fleet consists of over 100 mainly larger cabin aircraft.
Number 10. Clay Lacy offers FBO, aircraft maintenance, charter and private jet management services throughout the US. It has 160 jets under management in 33 home base locations. Of these aircraft, the ones available for charter tend to be larger cabin aircraft.
In their overall commentary on private aviation flight numbers in the first half of 2023, ARGUS analysts say “we have seen consistent declines in the Part 135 market, a mostly flat Part 91 market and a very strong Fractional market.” These are compared to the first six months of 2022. They add “The overall market in North America still remains very strong, recording approximately 288,000 flights per month during H1 2023, compared to the 260,000 that was averaged during 2019.”