The U.S. is the next frontier in the expansion plans of the ExecuJet business aviation services group. The firm expects to be ready to announce plans for a new American facility or joint venture between now and the NBAA Convention in October.
ExecuJet Aviation, set up 15 years ago in Zurich, has traditionally been standing on several legs: aircraft sales, aircraft management and charter, maintenance and ground handling. The Zurich-based company has facilities at Copenhagen Roskilde Airport and a joint venture at Berlin Schoenefeld with Bombardier and Lufthansa Technik. It also has FBOs, aircraft sales and maintenance facilities in offices in Dubai and Sydney, as well as at Johannesburg and Capetown in South Africa.
“We are not seeking expansion at any price, but we are definitely looking for opportunities to grow,” said Patrick Kleu, managing director for Europe.
One such opportunity is the Grob SPn utility/executive jet. Based on extensive sales experience with Bombardier products in 32 countries, ExecuJet obtained worldwide exclusive sales rights for the new German jet. Marketing efforts for that aircraft, which is expected to become available in late 2007, have started, although no sales have been announced to date. The market priority is Europe, the U.S. and then the rest of the world, but interest in the new Grob jet is already considerable in many parts of the world, according to Peter Smales, executive sales director of ExecuJet.
While the sales efforts for the new Grob jet are stepped up, the agreement with Pilatus for selling and servicing the PC-12 in South Africa, Scandinavia and the Middle East is gradually being phased out. It is expected that the staff of currently 450 specialists worldwide, with about 150 in Europe, will not change substantially.
While the worldwide exclusive sales agreement with Grob gives a certain urgency to expansion in markets not covered so far by the company, primarily the U.S., ExecuJet also looks at the rapidly growing market in Eastern Europe and Russia.
In the FBO business, competitive pressure in Europe from U.S. companies such as Signature Flight Support is definitely growing, but ExecuJet has consolidated its position in prime markets, including Zurich, where its well-equipped FBO has recently come out first in a poll among pilots of executive aircraft. Also, the company’s air-conditioned FBO and maintenance facility in Dubai, set up in 1999, is proving extremely popular with a growing number of customers.
ExecuJet has quietly built its aircraft management business to nearly 80 aircraft worldwide, with about 50 managed out of Zurich. This number includes eight Bombardier Global Expresses, which is believed to be the largest managed fleet of this type.
Priority at ExecuJet’s maintenance facilities is currently on Bombardier products, mainly on the Learjet, Challenger and Global Express series, plus Gulfstreams in Sydney and Dassault Falcons in Lanseria, while the Pilatus PC-12 turboprop is expected to decrease as other distributors are appointed. This should, of course, be compensated for by the arrival of an increasing number of Grob jets on the market.