NBAA Convention News

Trip-planner Palm Wants To Relieve Flight Headaches for U.S. Operators

 - October 22, 2013, 7:30 AM

Flight support group Palm Aviation (Booth No. C10816) is laying plans to open an office in the U.S., perhaps in partnership with a local company. The move will be the latest expansion for Dubai-based Palm, which is already represented across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Palm’s pledge to aircraft operators is that it can make international trips headache-free, even in places where headaches all too easily happen. According to chief commercial officer Mohammad Saideh, some of the most common causes of trip headaches are language barriers, bureaucracy associated with the issuing of permits and security arrangements.

To overcome language difficulties Palm has recruited a team of support personnel who, collectively, are fluent in 16 languages. But cultural understanding is also an important factor. For instance, explained Saideh, in some major new business aviation destinations, such as India and China, officials have yet to fundamentally grasp the point and special requirements of the business aviation mode of transportation. In this context it is not effective to simply demand the sort of access that would be readily available elsewhere, so Palm’s specialists work their diplomatic skills to the max to expedite what could be very cumbersome arrangements for the issuing of permits. “We speak to officials very plainly and explain the significance of a particular trip, which might involve a decision maker who could have a big influence on the local economy,” he told AIN.

Palm has experience supporting multiple trips by 14 different heads-of-states, which have been great tests of the company’s ability to deliver efficient support with a high degree of security and discretion. It can provide armed guards and armored cars as required, handling security at all stages of a trip. In Saideh’s view the degree of security risk is defined more by the circumstances of the individual travelers than by the destination to which they are flying.

Flawless Communications Systems

The company also has experience in organizing humanitarian flights, which can involve transporting vital but awkward cargo to difficult locations. It has also made elaborate arrangements for private hunting trips in places such as Algeria and Kazakhstan. Complex plans for catering and hotel accommodation, as well as fuel purchases, are all standard services for the Palm team.

“What makes the difference with us is that we have worked very hard to learn the necessary processes for delivering the [flight support] product,” said Saideh, who has previous experience with several Amiri royal flight departments in the Arabian Gulf. “We have created a flawless and smooth communications systems within our company and with customers that is direct and to the point so there is never any ambiguity.”

Given the widening geographical spread of business aviation’s operations around the globe, Palm has taken a pragmatic approach to providing services to rival flight support groups, and accepting help itself where and when this makes sense. With non-compete clauses in contracts to establish clear ground rules for this business-to-business support, Palm has found this to be an effective way to support clients in parts of the world where it wouldn’t otherwise have much traffic volume.

Palm is projecting annual revenue growth as high as 35 percent over the next four years. It has a strong focus on supporting flights in Africa and the CIS, which it believes remain underserved in terms of infrastructure and expertise. It also has plans to boost its presence in India and China, but the more immediate goal is getting closer to U.S. operators.