Jet Edge International has entered the lucrative Asian private aviation business through a joint venture with a Hong Kong aircraft charter and brokerage firm.
The deal between the Van Nuys Airport-based company and Asia Jet gives the foreign firm a minority ownership stake in Jet Edge. Asia Jet Chief Executive Bill Walsh joins the Jet Edge board of directors.
Jet Edge, in return, will get access to Asia Jet’s facilities, operational experience and ties to the Chinese government. The Hong Kong firm has uses the Jet Edge fleet of 16 planes ranging from the mid-size Lear 45 to heavy jets built by Gulfstream.
“They built a significant infrastructure we could piggy back on,” said Jet Edge President Bill Papariella.
Jet Edge was started in 2011 by Papariella and four business partners with financing from Bard Capital Group, a Denver private equity firm. It provides charter and management services primarily for large-cabin Gulfstream jets. By the end of the year, Jet Edge expects to have 19 aircraft under management.
China represents the fastest-growing market in general aviation, and has become a magnet for U.S. and other foreign aviation businesses, ranging from aircraft manufacturers and charter companies to fixed-base operators that sell fuel and handle ground services.
Earlier this year, TWC Aviation, also based at Van Nuys, announced a partnership with Sino Jet, another Hong Kong aircraft charter, to manage its VIP fleet. And Anjet, in Westlake Village, opened an office in Hong Kong.
Doing business in Asia countries brings its own challenges Papariella made clear during an Oct. 30 panel discussion on the topic at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando, Fla.
The infrastructure to support aircraft maintenance remains underdeveloped and red tape can make it difficult to receive landing permits. There have been times when charter clients have canceled trips because they did not receive permission to fly into an Asian country, he said.
“We are a for-profit business and like to move quickly, especially for charter,” Papariella said.