Jep Thornton’s career in aviation began in 1978 as a passenger service representative for Overseas National Airways in Frankfurt, Germany. Thornton then transferred into the ONA accounting department in the New York headquarters.
In 1980 Thornton joined World Airways as a market analyst in Oakland, California. In 1981, along with a team of three other World employees, Thornton was recruited to join the passenger division of the Flying Tiger Line called Metro International as a market analyst to set up their passenger accounting procedures based in New York. The Metro International operation was eventually sold to investors and became Tower Air.
In 1983 Thornton joined United Aviation Services a broker of ACMI services for the Hajj in the Middle East. Thornton started UAS’s aircraft trading operation purchasing their first aircraft on an operating lease, a B737-200 Combi on lease to Pan Am for the Internal German Service to Berlin which was in operation prior to the reunification of Germany.
In 1985 Thornton joined PK Airfinance as a Vice President in charge of Aerospace Lending for the Americas based in Luxembourg. During his time at PK, Thornton originated millions of dollars of aviation loans. Aerolease Aviation was one of Thornton’s customers at PK.
In 1989 Thornton started his first independent aircraft trading company, NSJ Corporation. NSJ traded over 80 aircraft and specialized in B727-200 cargo conversion programs as well as fleet transactions including over 40 aircraft from Lufthansa including 23 B737-200’s, 6 B737-400’s and 13 B737-300’s. In 1998 Thornton sold NSJ to Unicapital Corporation a publicly traded leasing roll up. During his time at Unicapital Thornton conducted several successful fleet transactions including 17 aircraft from Sabena, 10 B747’s from JAL and 14 B757’s from LTU.
In 2000 Thornton founded Automatic LLC growing to a portfolio of 36 aircraft, which it sold off during 2007. In 2009 Automatic closed a sale and leaseback of 5 B747-400’s with KLM that was sold on to Guggenheim Aviation.
In 2010 Thornton left Automatic to become a partner in Aerolease Aviation.