Huge opportunities in the East offset by tough market conditions in the West is a simplistic but not inaccurate way to summarize the current state of the international FBO business these days. Business aviation traffic has recovered to some extent in Europe, but trading conditions there are still made hard by a combination of economic woes and rising costs.
Beyond Europe, traffic growth rates are often exponential but the fact remains that in many parts of emerging markets such as Asia, the Middle East and Africa,the traditional FBO as conceived in the core U.S. market barely exists in any meaningful sense. At many locations aircraft operators still have to depend on whatever ground support they can find, often with the help of expert trip planners and their local staff.
This picture is changing, with companies such as Hawker Pacific pioneering the FBO business model in China (see article on page 27) but there remain significant obstacles to delivering Western standards of service and convenience around the globe. For example, bureaucratic and political barriers to building new FBOs at airports still stand in the way of progress in many places.
At the same time, there are still companies wanting to pursue opportunities in the far more mature market of Europe, such as Dubai-based JetEx, which has launched a joint venture at Shannon on the West coast of Ireland as well as opening yet another FBO at Paris Le Bourget Airport.
For this year’s special report on international FBOs, AIN’s reporters have provided some timely snapshots of how new service standards are being rolled out in the industry’s new markets, with reports from Russia, Asia and Africa, as well as from Europe itself.
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