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Maverick Swiss Billionaire Flohr Disrupts Private-Jet World

  • Thomas Flohr builds $2 billion fortune operating VistaJet
  • Rivals questioned ability to compete against incumbents
Thomas Flohr
Thomas FlohrPhotographer: Calvin Sit/Bloomberg
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Thomas Flohr amassed a $2 billion fortune by flying the global elite wherever they need to go. His VistaJet Group Holding Ltd. operates a fleet of 72 silver and red business aircraft that ferry executives, politicians and private clients around the world. Last year, private equity firm Rhone Capital bought around 7 percent of the business at a $2.65 billion valuation. The company’s flight revenue rose 22 percent in 2017.

Flohr, 48, who previously worked in asset finance, founded the company in 2004 after becoming frustrated with existing offerings, a move that prompted competitors to call him a “lunatic.” In an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York, Flohr discussed the future of aviation and the challenges of bootstrapping a company through the financial crisis. Comments have been edited and condensed.