ABS Steps Up Expansion in the East

 - January 26, 2011, 3:00 AM

Czech-based aircraft management and charter operator ABS Jets is seeking to step up its ambitious expansion plans through negotiations with prospective Russian and Austrian partners. The company hopes to establish a new subsidiary in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, as well as a possible new operation in Kazakhstan. At the same time, ABS has been negotiating for a prospective tie-up with an FBO in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The latest growth plans for ABS come on top of its existing development work, which includes the start late last year of construction for a new 65,000-sq-ft hangar at Prague’s Ruzyne Airport that will triple the size of the company’s premises. In the neighboring Slovak Republic, ABS has just opened a new 4,300-sq-ft office in the business aviation terminal at Bratislava Airport in a convenient location beside Apron C. The company is now seeking approval to build another new hangar for its base at Bratislava Airport in the next two years. It also intends to establish a base in the Slovak resort of Popra.

According to the company, it has already sold about half the space in the new hangar in Prague. Currently, the company operates 11 aircraft and it expects the fleet to grow over the next few years. Of the 11 aircraft, seven are available for charter: five Embraer Legacy 600s, a Bombardier Learjet 60XR and a Cessna Citation Bravo. For private owners, it manages three Gulfstreams, a Legacy and a Boeing Business Jet.

“In the next two or three years, after the hangar is built, we want to enlarge our fleet more quickly and continue moving along the same trajectory over the next 10 years to obtain optimal synergies between operations and services,” said ABS Jets CEO Vladimír Peták. “A fleet of 30 is the optimal number to obtain business synergies.”

ABS, which was formed in 2004, is owned by European finance groups J&T and PPF and today employs 200 people. Peták joined the board in mid-2007 and was CFO before being appointed CEO. He is a former commercial pilot and still flies privately.

In January, ABS appointed Antonia Tomkova as its new commercial director. She has spent more than six years in the executive charter and aircraft management sector and most recently has served as ABS’s head of marketing and public relations.

New Maintenance Markets

Separately, ABS is looking to capitalize on its experience of supporting Embraer Legacys by getting CAR 145 maintenance approval from the United Arab Emirates to provide base and line support for these aircraft. This will allow it to start supporting the growing Legacy fleet in the Middle East, and the company will now be seeking the same approval from other Arabic states.

In addition to the Legacy, ABS’s EASA 145-approved facility in Prague is also an Embraer authorized service center for the Phenom 100. It can also support the Citation Bravo. The engineering team can handle scheduled maintenance (up to C-checks), as well as tasks such as avionics upgrades, APU replacement and cabin modification.