Airx prepares for take-off on a £200m London float
PRIVATE jet operator Airx has appointed advisers as it prepares the runway for a London float that could raise up to £200m next year.
Bankers from Investec and legal firm Norton Rose have been hired to explore an initial public offering (IPO).
The company is majority owned by chairman John Matthews and boasts billionaires and celebrities as customers. It claims to have the “most diverse fleet of aircraft in private aviation”.
Airx keeps its 250-strong celebrity client list private. However, Lionel Messi and the Argentinian football squad, their rivals from Brazil and Queen guitarist Brian May have recently all taken to social media to state their enjoyment of Airx’s services.
‘I buy at the right time. We want to raise a good deal of money to consolidate this broken industry’
Mr Matthews divides opinion within the aviation sector. He took over Airx in 2011 when it had three aircraft and £4m of debt. The company now operates 17 planes, generates £100m of annual revenue and has 300 staff either side of the Atlantic.
“We want to raise a good deal of money to consolidate this broken industry,” he said.
Mr Matthews believes the more unscrupulous end of the rapidly expanding, and unregulated, private-charter broker network could result in highprofile clients flying on a “non-audited cheapish jet”. Instead Airx will offer its services direct to customers through its own booking service, he said.
The company buys older aircraft at “one-eighth of capital cost” before sprucing them up. “I buy the aircraft at the right time, when they still have 20 years life left,” said Mr Matthews.
In 2016, Airx poached six top executives from leading US aircraft charter operator Chapman Freeborn.