Canada-based Skyplan, a flight-services provider, plans to open an office in Dubai in February to complement its existing Sharjah office, which opened a year ago, and to better serve clients operating out of Dubai International Airport and elsewhere in the region.
Skyplan’s office in Sharjah has already proved its worth, giving the company a second time zone in which to operate alongside its main operation in Calgary, Canada. “We wanted two time zones,” said CEO Adrian Vaughan. “The busy period in this region is our quiet period in Canada, when we didn’t have the resources to satisfy demand in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.”
“Following the success of our operation in Sharjah, customers have been asking us to expand our presence in Dubai,” said Muhammad Sami, Skyplan’s managing director in the United Arab Emirates. “A year ago we felt that there was huge demand and need for a one-window service provider.”
Much of Skyplan’s work is with smaller aviation entities–start-ups, corporate operators and small freight operators, which often have too few aircraft to justify having large flight operations departments. Yet Vaughan believes there may come a time when even larger operators realize that Skyplan and similar services have a breadth of expertise that few operators can match.
Two particular advantages the company has are its flight-planning software–CyberTracOne (CTO)–which has been developed over the past two decades, and “worldwide fuel arrangements.” This software is used by “several global flight support providers,” said Vaughan, who is therefore cautious of treading on their toes and stealing customers. “Our competitors are usually our clients, too. We have helped lots of the service providers to grow. We have to be careful; the last thing we want to do is steal their clients.”
Vaughn said many clients use the “pay-per-flight” service, which can include just a basic flight plan, or flight plan plus weather, Notams [notices to airmen], flight following and permits, as required. But he pointed out the value of having a “pay monthly” service. The system can run 1,000 different scenarios to come up with the best routing, he said. This is based on having specific aircraft details in the system, so that variations (or biases) from the various aircraft characteristics can be taken into account.
The Skyplan system also has a tankering module, which enables operators to optimize where they purchase extra fuel. Each ton of additional fuel carried increases fuel burn by 4 percent of that additional amount, but it can still pay off to purchase more fuel at particular locations.