Swiss business aviation servicer Jet Aviation is cashing in on the rising demand for private flights with its impending sale to a United States defence contractor.
General Dynamics will buy the Zurich-based firm for SFr2.45 billion ($ 2.23 billion) by the end of the year. The sale of business planes has trebled in the past ten years, boosting Jet Aviation´s fortunes.
Jet Aviation specialises in servicing and maintaining business aircraft and provides private charter flights and a range of temporary staff for the airline industry. The privately owned business has gone from strength to strength since it was founded in 1967 to become one of the world´s leading companies in its field. It operates from 25 locations around the world and has a fleet of 200 aircraft.
The market for privately chartered business aircraft has been boosted by security restrictions imposed on commercial flights following the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, according to aerospace analyst Nick Cunningham of Evolution Securities.
"Post 9/11, scheduled flying has become more onerous and time consuming," he told swissinfo. "Added to that, the general economic upturn has seen the emergence of more wealthy individuals."
The sale of business jets nearly tripled in the last decade, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. It estimates that 1,138 aircraft worth $ 19.4 billion were sold in 2007 compared to 438 with a value of $6 billion ten years earlier.
"The market is not huge, but it is now significant rather than the niche market it used to be," said Cunningham.