COLUMBUS (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) – A growing private aviation company based in California has chosen Columbus as its operational headquarters, and plans to hire an additional 100 employees here as the industry of flying the rich and famous grows.
Jet Edge – which recently flew President Joe Biden from Delaware to Washington D.C. for the inauguration – bought Columbus-based JetSelect, a smaller firm, about a year ago.
Robert Austin, president of fleet operations for Jet Edge and former CEO of JetSelect, said the California firm decided to double down on its investment in Columbus after the acquisition.
“We’re excited to be part of the fabric of Columbus,” Austin said. “Columbus is a great place for lower cost of real estate, labor and also a very target-rich labor market.”
Jet Edge now has 75 employees that report to a new “operations command center” that just opened in the Easton area. The company is already looking to double its square footage on Worth Avenue and take up the entire first floor of its office building.
Jet Edge plans to hire another 100 people in the next 24 to 36 months in the areas of sales, operations, scheduling, logistics and accounting.
“This operation is really the heart of Jet Edge,” Austin said. “This is where people work around the clock. It’s literally 24/7.”
The operations center is the hub for organizing the 25,000 charter hours of flying that Jet Edge did last year, making it the fifth-largest private aircraft operator in the U.S., Austin said.
The company’s fleet of more than 85 private planes are based in 45 cities across the U.S., and its clientele is high-net-worth people who are flying daily from Miami to L.A., Denver to New York, Seattle to Cabo and the like.
“We’re controlling flights all over,” Austin said. “Not a lot of companies operate at this scale, which shows how big Jet Edge is getting. There are many small mom-and-pop operators, but what sets us apart is … we have the infrastructure to support 2,800 hours of flying every month.”
Albert Hsieh, marketing consultant for Jet Edge, said the acquisition of JetSelect made Jet Edge realize that Columbus was “an ideal place to set up shop.”
“The talent coming out of Columbus is really the motivator for us to be here,” Hsieh said.
Ohio is rich with aviation schools, including Ohio State University, Kent State University, University of Cincinnati, Bowling Green University, Wright State University, Embry-Riddle’s Ohio operations and a slew of other private flight schools.
It also doesn’t hurt that Jet Edge’s “biggest competitor is right up the street,” Hsieh said, an apparent reference to NetJets, another Columbus-based private aviation firm.
The expansion comes as the private aviation industry continues to see growth.
Hsieh said the firm saw an increase in new fliers for private aviation during the pandemic, and anticipates growth among younger millionaires.
“It’s a luxury product and there’s a lot of benefits to it,” Hsieh said. “We do serve the top 1% of the 1%. For our clientele, who have a net worth of between $30 million to $50 million, they see this as a utility. This is their mode of transportation to get from A to B.”
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