Private aviation company Volato has just announced plans to go public by combining with PROOF Acquisition Corp I (NYSE: PACI). Volato operates a floating fleet of private jets across the United States with programs including fractional ownership, jet card and deposit programs, aircraft management services, and on-demand charter.
Volato was founded in 2021 and took delivery of its first HondaJet in August of that year, when it also launched its fractional ownership program. The fleet has now grown to a total of 25 aircraft (including fractional, managed and leased aircraft), of which 18 are HondaJets, with another 27 aircraft on firm order. The fractional program has some unique features, including a revenue share on hours flown for the fractional owners.
In 2022 it launched a jet card program on the HondaJets and also placed orders for for four Gulfstream G280 super-mid size jets. The Stretch jet card rewards flexibility when booking a flight on a private jet, and the Volato Insider Deposit Program offers access to dynamic charter rates across the country with capped rates when you fly between “insider city zones”.
From an initial base in Florida, the company has grown to 6 operational bases in:
- Atlanta, GA
- St. Augustine, FL
- Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Easton, MD
- Houston Hobby, TX
- Carlsbad, CA
With plans to expand to other parts of the country.
The company generated almost $100m in revenue in 2022, with aircraft share sales making up the largest share of this revenue. The company highlights that it is growing recurring revenue as it provides ongoing services to fractional owners over the five year term of their agreements.
The SPAC transaction values the combined company at a pro forma enterprise value of $261 million and is expected to provide $25 million in additional proceeds. The company also announced that in July it raised $10 million of equity funding from the PROOF family of venture funds.
Volato says the new capital will be used to i) expand the fleet size ii) expand the geographic footprint and operational coverage iii) make a focused entry into the corporate travel market, and expand its software.
The combination transaction is expected to be completed in 2023 and Volato's senior management will continue to serve in their current roles. The current Volato owners will retain approximately 63.5% of the ownership at close.
Matt Liotta, CEO & Co-Founder of Volato commented, "Volato is primed to be a change maker in the private aviation industry, and we are excited to be merging with PACI to drive this opportunity forward. Our asset-light business model is structured to maximize fleet utilization and profitability, while our attention to service provides a seamless and elevated aviation experience for our owners and passengers. Since inception, our team has consistently exceeded its goals, including generating nearly $100 million in revenue in FY 2022. Bringing Volato to the public markets will allow us to build on this momentum and accelerate our vision to provide unique and customized travel experiences that deliver a better aviation experience for all our customers."
John Backus, CEO of PACI commented, "Volato is the ideal partner for PACI. We were impressed by the depth of experience across Volato's management team, which is highly complementary to PACI's deep aviation acumen and expertise. We were also attracted to Volato's innovative yet simple business model, set within a highly regulated, traditional industry which is ripe for disruption. The private aviation industry is buffered from many of the headwinds that face other industries and Volato is further protected through its entry- point positioning and efficient best-in-class HondaJet fleet. We believe this merger and related funding provides a unique high-growth, low-volatility opportunity to be part of a strong operating company, and we are committed to helping drive growth over the long-term."
Nicholas Cooper, Chief Commercial Officer & Co-Founder of Volato added, "We believe the merger with PACI will provide us access to capital that funds our business plan through to profitability, alongside a complimentary team who is eager to work together to drive innovation in private aviation. With the additional equity funding, we can continue executing against our near-term business objectives.”
Other Publicly Listed Private Aviation Companies
Most private aviation companies are private entities, but over the last few years, there has been a lot of interest in private aviation companies becoming publicly listed.
Also, in October 2022 flyExclusive announced a business combination with EG Acquisition Corp in another SPAC deal. This one is expected to close later in 2023.
Wheels Up went public via a SPAC in 2021 and the largest fractional jet provider NetJets has been owned for many years by publicly listed Berkshire Hathaway.