Part of the Vista Global Holding ecosystem the XO app provides access to the Vista Member’s fleet of more than 360 aircraft, and in excess of 2,400 Alliance Fleet aircraft offering the same levels of safety. Youssef Mouallem, XO’s Executive VP, explains
Looking to scale up its presence in the North American market, in 2018 Vista Global bought XOJET, a successful Florida-based business aviation company. The following year it acquired JetSmarter and its mobile booking app, combining the two companies later in 2019 under the XO brand. Today, XO continues to gain traction under the Vista Global umbrella, allowing customers to book directly through the app, website or an aviation advisor.
Youssef Mouallem, XO’s Executive VP, explains the app’s surprising reach. “XO is a digital marketplace, providing transparent pricing and instant booking. It’s backed by Vista’s global fleet, together totalling more than 360 aircraft, and provides access to more than 2,400 in what we call the XO Alliance Fleet.
“This comprises third-party operators who’ve been through the Vista safety and approval process. We have dedicated teams who look at their training and maintenance practices, insurance and safety records, and more. If they pass, their aircraft become available through the app. Customers search for the trip they want, and the app shows them Vista Members’ fleet availability and Alliance Fleet availability.”
Thanks to the approval process, the third-party operators are guaranteed to deliver the standards of safety, crew training and maintenance customers expect from Vista itself. Mouallem notes that Vista actively seeks operators in areas where additional coverage is required, helping them adjust their operation to meet its standards if required.
All XO prices are broken down into their component parts, giving customers maximum visibility of what they are paying for. Mouallem continues: “Our proprietary technology combines with visibility of our global floating fleet, plus our most recent acquisition, US company Camber, to provide what I believe is the most accurate pricing in the industry. We are not resting on our laurels though – we have teams working on improvements through machine learning and AI.”
The app offers customers the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions and assumes that they will take this important step, but the option remains to click it off should they wish. Mouallem says: “Thomas Flohr, Vista’s founder and chairman, has made a commitment that by 2025 VistaJet be carbon neutral across its operation. This commitment is a blueprint for all Vista companies and to achieve it we’re using a multi-tiered approach with carbon offsetting, AI, technology and efficient aircraft, on top of taking SAF whenever we can get it.”
Flight sharing also offers customers the option of joining a flight with several other people, reducing their individual carbon footprint. Mouallem explains: “Our shared flights deliver a private flying experience on scheduled shuttles. On average, charter flight occupancy is around three to four passengers, so if we fly with 16 passengers the per-passenger carbon footprint is five or six times less. It’s gaining a lot of traction in the US, where we’re operating 16 return flights per week between New York and Florida, and expanding to other cities, while simultaneously looking at high frequency routes in Europe.
“It’s a really nice service, providing a private jet scheduled ‘airline’ experience. In the US we’ve taken CRJ200 airliners, removed the commercial cabin and replaced it with 16 high-end seats. And passengers get the FBO experience too, for a smooth transition to and from the aircraft. It’s a game changer and bookable through the app, which tells customers how many seats are available on each flight and provides accurate pricing.”
The app is available with various levels of subscription, starting with none at all – it is possible to download it, create an account and start searching. Clicking to book a flight connects the user to XO’s sales team, where certain data is validated, and the payment process completed.
Three membership levels are also available, says Mouallem. “Deposit Members put money on account, refundable at any time and meaning that as soon as they click to book it’s paid for. If it’s with the Vista Members’ fleet it’s locked in, if it’s with an Alliance Fleet operator we log a contract with them. We offer XO Membership and XO Reserve Membership on this basis, where customers deposit US$100,000 or US$250,000, respectively. Then we have our seat sharing membership, where there’s a fee for the membership but no deposit is required.”
Right now, some aircraft in the Vista Members’ fleet are still flying in XO, Air Hamburg and other colours, but all are gradually being re-liveried in VistaJet’s familiar silver and red. Eventually the expanded Vista fleet will be consistent in appearance inside and out, look and feel, wine choice, service and even onboard scent. “It’s all about the experience,” Mouallem says. And the easiest way in to that is via the XO app.