Big changes at Amerijet

On 26 July, ZS Fund L.P., a New York-based private equity firm announced it had acquired a majority stake in Miami-based Amerijet Holdings, Inc., and its logistics subsidiary, ITN Worldwide from H.I.G. Capital, for an undisclosed amount. In addition to the change in ownership, Amerijet’s founder, Dave Bassett will also step down as the group’s CEO, to be replaced by Vicken Karjian.

An Amerijet 767-200F.

An Amerijet 767-200F.

If this transaction seems at all familiar, you are not mistaken. Back in 2006, Switzerland-based Farnair, which at the time consisted of two airlines, (Farnair Switzerland and Farnair Hungary) was sold to a consortium of investors led by none other than Vic Karjian. While at the helm of Farnair, Karjian aggressively pursued global expansion – a strategy which put Farnair planes into service far-beyond the confines of Europe. Joint ventures in India and Thailand brought Quickjet and K-Mile in the Farnair portfolio. The group also forged new agreements with large integrator customers to carry mail and freight within Africa.

Might Karjian have similar plans for Amerijet? In a statement which strongly echoed his inauguration at Farnair, Vic said, “with the support of ZS Fund, we plan to continue to grow and diversify our service offerings to create more products and opportunities to meet the needs of our current and future customers.” What might this mean in the context of Amerijet? At present, the all-cargo carrier deploys its five 767 freighters (three -200BDSFs and three -300BDSFs) and three 727Fs in scheduled and charter flights to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America from its hub in Miami. Its subsidiaries however, may also factor heavily into the company’s value proposition. Amerijet is indeed more than just a cargo carrier, with subsidiaries ITN Worldwide and Nations Express that together provide integrated logistics and freight forwarding services, including a robust LTL and FTL network which spans across the Americas.

In 2014 Amerijet unsuccessfully tried to leverage potential synergies between its road feeder and air transport affiliates by testing a US domestic express network which combined its air and road networks. The plan included daily 767-200 service between the US cities of Reno and Columbus, with road feeder service connecting the Reno hub to four cities in the western US, and connecting the Columbus hub to five cities in the east. The service offered one-to-two-day origin-to-destination times between major commercial centers on opposite sides of the country – considerably less than the up-to-five days needed for road transport, at a price well below overnight air express. Volumes failed to meet the carrier’s expectation, and after three months Amerijet ended the service and closed its facilities at the two airports.

Two years later, maybe the world is ready for such a service, and if not, Karjian likely has some other ambitious plans for Amerijet. After all he has spent the past two years in Seattle following his departure from Farnair – perhaps Amerijet will be the next logistics company to tie-up with Seattle-based Amazon. And we note that he is also the founder (in 1992) of Dubai-based Falcon Aviation Group, and brings many years of experience in Gulf Region logistics with him to his new job.