EBACE 2011: TAG Aviation Focusing on Growth in Europe and Asia

 - May 18, 2011, 8:42 AM

Mansour Ojjeh, head of the privately owned TAG Group, said he had stepped off an airplane less than a half an hour before he sat down in the conference room of TAG's impressive EBACE chalet to talk to AIN. The chalet (Stand 7020), as AIN's EBACE Convention News reported yesterday, contains a spectacular collection of original art presented by Opera Gallery in Geneva, in association with Artliner, a company owned by Ojjeh's niece, Tattiana Ojjeh.

While aviation is only part of TAG Group's businesses, which include a hotel (the Aviator in Farnborough, UK, commercial real estate, motorsport [McClaren Group] and agriculture), Ojjeh said he stays in touch with TAG Aviation Holding's CEO Robert Wells and others in management "almost on a daily basis. I keep a close eye on our aviation business," he said, "because it is my creation, my idea. It has the name of TAG on it, which is a symbol of excellence and success. We have a passion for aviation, which began when Aziz [Ojjeh's brother] became interested in it."

Aziz Ojjeh is also a principal of the TAG Group and involved in its leadership. The brothers inherited TAG after the death of their father, Akram Ojjeh, in 1991.

Mansour Ojjeh explained it is important for everyone at TAG Aviation to maintain the company's image for quality service. "I believe in the future and in TAG's business case to do things differently and consistently better than the competition. We can be competitive, but we can't lose our focus on quality service. This has to come from the top down," he said, "from the top management to the managers, to the pilots and flight attendants and maintenance technicians."

Looking toward the future, Ojjeh sees Europe and Asia as TAG's main growth areas, with a continued focus on aircraft management, charter and maintenance. "There's still room for growth in these businesses in Europe and obviously in Asia," he said.

"We have the FBO at Farnborough, because we own the airport, and the FBO here in Geneva," he said, "but becoming a big FBO chain is not our intention." However, Ojjeh said he's always looking for opportunities, and AIN observed that TAG Asia in Hong Kong just added an Airbus A319 Corporate Jet. Could his mention of "opportunities" mean a TAG FBO in Hong Kong or elsewhere in Asia? "It depends," he answered, though not with much enthusiasm, and added that TAG Asia now has 24 managed airplanes after only two years of operation.

Overall, TAG Aviation manages more than 100 business jets, Ojjeh said, and only two of these are company owned. When TAG began its charter operations, it owned a core fleet of 14 aircraft, he said.

Regarding expansion to other parts of the world, such as Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, Ojjeh said, he's interested, but that the company "has only so much resources," and he wants to maintain TAG's reputation for quality. He said he does not think TAG will go back into the U.S. market.