Bombardier expands Skyjet into Pakistan

 - September 26, 2006, 1:05 PM

Pakistan is the latest new market for Bombardier’s Skyjet International fixed-rate executive charter program with the appointment of Karachi-based Princely Jets as its latest operating partner. Princely Jets was set to take delivery of a new Learjet 45 by the end of last month and later intends to add either a Challenger 604 or Challenger 300 to its fleet.

Skyjet is now looking to add operators in India this year, assuming Bombardier makes aircraft sales to some new prospective operators with whom negotiations are in progress. Most business aircraft manufacturers agree that India is a market that has huge potential, but there are still just a handful of privately owned corporate jets in this vast country.

Princely Jets is owned by an undisclosed existing customer of Skyjet International. He has decided to offer Skyjet services using a mixture of owned and managed Bombardier aircraft.

The company has not yet published the rates for flights within Pakistan. It will also take bookings for flights outside the country, and these will be provided by Skyjet’s Middle Eastern operators  at the rates that already apply for this region.

During November’s Dubai Air Show, Bombardier signed Abu Dhabi-based Royal Jet as a new Skyjet operator in the Middle East. Including Royal Jet’s newly delivered Challenger 300, there are 16 aircraft available to Skyjet customers in the Middle East. The program’s other operators include Bexair (Bahrain), Qatar Airways (Qatar), ExecuJet Middle East (Dubai) and Cirrus Aviation (Beirut).

According to managing director Judith Moreton, Skyjet has achieved 30-percent growth since it was introduced in February 2005 as a relaunch of the previous Flexjet service. The program, which encompasses more than 900 Bombardier aircraft worldwide, now has 35 percent more customers and is generating 25 percent more revenue flight hours for the charter operators who fly the services. The program is available for flights within and between four regions of the world: North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific and the Middle East.

Skyjet Projects Even More Demand

During the first half of this year, more Bombardier business jet deliveries are scheduled in this part of the world, and this is expected to result in new operators being added to the Skyjet roster, which currently includes all Bombardier operators in the Middle East. From an office in Dubai, the Middle East operation covers a service area that extends west-east from Egypt to India and north-south from Uzbekistan to Yemen.

Moreton told AIN that demand for Skyjet is growing particularly well among corporate customers and other “large volume” users, who typically commit to between 100 and 200 hours of flight time. This in turn boosts demand to use Skyjet aircraft for leisure trips as executives traveling under their company’s membership come to realize that the service is more affordable than they had imagined for personal use.

According to Moreton, Skyjet has seen increased demand both for flights within each of the four regions and for flights between the regions. In some cases, the company has arranged for a jet to be temporarily relocated from one region to another to meet demand over an extended period.

In her view, rising demand for executive charter in the Middle East is being driven in particular by a growing number of younger-generation entrepreneurs who take a more pragmatic view of what business aircraft can achieve and are less bound by rather conservative social conventions that have deterred their widespread use in the region. She added that growing international investment both within the Middle East and by businesses from this region in other parts of the world (such as India) is also leading to increased charter bookings.

Skyjet’s terms and conditions will remain the same throughout this year. Next year, the company hopes to add another region to the global package. Moreton said that there is already increasing demand for business jet flights into and within Africa, but that there is currently insufficient charter capacity to meet this need.

Skyjet’s fixed, occupied-hour prices for both block and ad hoc charter options vary between the regions, reflecting differences in local operating costs and market forces. Broadly speaking, rates in the U.S. are the least expensive, followed by the Middle East, Europe and the Asia/Pacific region.

Customers from one region can use flights to or within another region at the prevailing rates that apply in that region. For example, the cost of chartering a 10-passenger Learjet 60 for a flight from Dubai to Delhi (roughly a three-hour trip) would be $24,140.

The program’s Jet Membership cards can be purchased either entirely pre-paid or by making a deposit and then making additional payments every two weeks as hours are used. Bombardier allows customers not to fly up to 25 percent of their annual allocation of occupied hours.

One other Skyjet option is the Frequent Traveller package for customers who intend to make multiple flights but who do not want the additional commitment of Jet Membership. Clients pay a minimum deposit of $35,000, which counts against occupied hours flown over a three-year period, progressively increasing their deposit to cover additional hours. As the deposit increases, bonus credits go into the customer’s account, increasing from 1 percent for a $100,000 deposit (that is, $1,000) to 2.5 percent for $200,000 ($5,000).

As with these block charter offerings, Skyjet’s ad hoc pricing gives improved rates for same-day round trips and for “by the day” bookings with a minimum of two occupied hours flown each day on itineraries spanning two or more days. Jet Membership clients get a further price break (2.5 percent) if they commit to 50 or more hours.

In the U.S., aircraft availability is guaranteed with 12 hours’ notice. In Europe the flight needs to be requested by 4 p.m. Central European Time on the day before departure; in the Middle East trips need to be booked by noon Greenwich Mean Time on the day before departure.