ABS Jets is accelerating its development as a comprehensive business aviation services group and is here at the NBAA show (Booth No. C13618) to explain how it can support U.S. operators in central and eastern Europe. On September 27, the Czech-based company opened its second hangar at Prague’s Ruzyně Airport and from January it will be able to provide handling there for other operators. It plans to open a full-service FBO by 2013.
The new 65,000-sq-ft hangar has tripled the size of ABS’s space in Prague. The group also has a base at Bratislava, capital of the neighboring Slovak Republic, which it recently expanded with the addition of 4,300-sq-ft of offices and crew rooms. It wants to add a hangar at Bratislava, too.
The company’s core business is aircraft management and charter with a fleet of 12 aircraft, including six Embraer Legacys and a mix of Gulfstreams, Bombardier Learjet 60s and Cessna Citation Bravos. In Prague, ABS operates an Embraer authorized service center for the Legacy and Phenom jets. It can provide line maintenance for these aircraft in Bratislava, as well as support the Citation Bravo. In addition to holding approvals to work on Europe-registered aircraft, ABS is cleared to support aircraft registered in the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates. The company also acts as an Embraer sales representatives in the Czech and Slovak Republics.
Commercial director Antonia Tomkova told AIN that ABS is targeting further expansion in the Slovak Republic and it has plans to develop an operation in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Tomkova also indicated the company would like to spread its wings into other eastern European locations such as Sofia, Bulgaria. “We want to help U.S. operators coming to Europe by providing a good location for fuel stops and layovers,” she said, adding that ABS is also attracting customers from Brazil. The ABS support team can help operators with flight planning, she said.
ABS, which was formed in 2004, is owned by European finance groups J&T and PPF, and today employs around 200 people. According to chief executive Vladimír Peták, the fast-growing company wants to grow its fleet to at least 30 aircraft, which he considers to be the optimal size in terms of cost-efficient operations.
ABS Jets estimated that, as of late August, its fleet has been flying about 12 percent more than it was in the first eight months of 2010. In recent months, when the European charter market has generally been difficult, the company has felt able to increase prices slightly, but rates are yet to recover to where they were in 2008.
With private aircraft charters still relatively novel in central and eastern Europe, the relatively small number of operators trading there have arguably not felt the squeeze of reduced demand seen in the west of the continent. “In our region the market is still pretty new,” commented commercial director Tomkova. “There is still slow growth and we expect to see some new operators entering the market.”