Jet Aviation yesterday announced the introduction of its Skylliance charter program that it hopes will eventually expand into a wide network of charter operators adhering to safety and service standards it has defined. The Zurich-based aviation-services company introduced the program in April to a select group of charter operators and has so far has signed one membership agreement–with Executive Airlines of Spain–and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with several other unnamed operators.
Rolling out this month, Skylliance will initially cover Europe, but Jet Aviation plans to extend it to other areas, including possibly North America. Jet Aviation officials expect to have 20 to 25 aircraft available in the program when a few of the MOUs are converted to agreements and have a goal of 50 aircraft by the end of 2009.
“The worldwide charter industry is highly fragmented, consisting of hundreds of providers with vastly different standards,” said Martin Bernegger, senior vice president and general manager of Jet Aviation’s Europe, the Middle East and Africa charter division. “Skylliance is an alliance of high-quality air charter operators and aircraft workingsafety and service standards as defined by us,” he told a press conference here in Geneva yesterday afternoon.
Jet Aviation will audit carefully each prospective Skylliance charter operator before allowing it to join the program. The operator must also already be in compliance with the regulations of its respective CAA and JAR-Ops 1/EASA and have an unblemished safety record. Jet Aviation will carry out annual audits of each member.
Charter operators will pay a one-time entrance fee and monthly membership fees ranging from €750 to €2,000 per aircraft, determined by the size and number of aircraft placed in the program. Jet Aviation will provide marketing and sales support. Skylliance branding includes brochures, aircraft decals, ties, scarves and pins for the crew and cabin comfort items, such as a welcome mat. Jet Aviation will give Skylliance operators about a 5-percent discount on maintenance and fuel at Jet Aviation facilities and anticipates that members will experience increased aircraft usage.
Heinz Aebi, Jet Aviation senior vice president for marketing and communications, said Skylliance customers would benefit by having easy access, via a dedicated toll-free telephone number, to a wide range of aircraft operated at a consistent, high level of safety and service. He said he expects more charter alliance programs will be formed in the future.
According to Theo Staub, president and COO of Jet Aviation North America, the company currently has about 200 aircraft under full or partial management. About one-third of these are available for charter, he said, and some of these may be added to the Skylliance program, if desired by the owners.
Although Jet Aviation characterizes its new program as “innovating the air charter industry” and setting “another industry benchmark,” Bombardier Skyjet International offers a similar charter alliance program. Together with the Skyjet program in North America, Skyjet International offers global business jet services and provides unrestricted and fixed-price access to more than 900 business jets based in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.