Columbus Business First
By Evan Weese, August 4, 2015
Ypsilanti, Michigan-based Kalitta Charters LLC has purchased operational assets of Columbus-based AirNet Systems Inc., a specialized cargo carrier that has struggled to overcome a plunge in demand for flying canceled bank checks over the past decade.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We’re buying the people,” said Doug Kalitta, president of Kalitta Charters. “They’ve been in business for 40 years. They’ve scaled down and they really kept their best people.”
Kalitta provides air charter services for passenger, cargo, and medical transport.
AirNet operated under a court-appointed receiver since early 2014. Founded in 1974, the company was publicly traded from 1996 through 2008, when it was taken private.
AirNet employed more than 1,000, many in Columbus, until its main source of business dried up when banks were authorized in 2004 to clear checks by sending digital images instead of physically transporting canceled checks.
“From the check side of things, obviously none of that exists anymore,” said Mark Simone, an executive with AirNet who spearheaded the sale of assets out of receivership. “(Now) it’s radioactive pharmaceuticals, auto parts, getting parts to airplanes, organs for procurement.”
Kalitta Charters, which operates a fleet of 40 aircraft for flying passengers and cargo with quick response times, also was drawn to the company’s aircraft maintenance operations. “That’s one of the things we’re real excited about,” Kalitta said.
Kalitta plans to begin hiring. “We’re looking for definitely another dozen pilots,” Kalitta said.