The proverbial “flight to quality” seems to be the best explanation for why ExecuJet Aviation Europe is still bucking the downward trend in the continent’s business aviation sector. According to newly appointed managing director Gerritt Basson, movements at its 10 FBOs around Europe increased last year as did the size and activity levels of its charter/management fleet.
“This is testimony to our strategy of creating a stronger brand and better solutions for our customers,” Basson told AIN. In his view, ExecuJet’s aircraft operations have continued to rise because charter and management clients are more determined to stick to reputable operators.
Now ExecuJet is taking two more steps to solidify its position with clients. First, it has invested in a network of key account managers overseen by new account management director Andreas Pfisterer. Secondly, it is introducing a new iPad application called Flightforce that allows aircraft owners to monitor every detail of how their jets are being used.
According to Basson, the account managers operate in a similar way to their counterparts at private banks, offering a very attentive, boutique level of service to the aircraft owners to ensure that they are getting everything they need from the management service. “Owners these days expect more of operators than just dispatching aircraft,” he said. Any issues relating to the operation of particular aircraft are channeled through its account manager, who is responsible for resolving them.
Over the past 24 months, ExecuJet has invested around $2 million on new software to centralize the operations process for its fleet (around 50 in Europe and many more in other parts of the world). The Flightforce app is the customer interface for this system and the company is demonstrating it here at the EBACE show (Booth 851).
The app gives owners and their representatives a real-time look at what flying their aircraft has done and what it has scheduled. It can also show who flew on the aircraft and which crew operated it, as well as delivering graphs to show data such as fuel burn, flight hours and flight permit applications.
“The objective is to give owners every reason to trust us as their operator, by giving them complete transparency,” explained Basson, who believes that this is the only app of its kind in the business today. In the next two months, ExecuJet will be adding financial information to the app so that it can show full details of operating costs and billing.
Overall, Basson concluded that the charter/market market remains very fragmented. Despite several years of tough trading conditions there are still around 800 operators across Europe, but only a handful of them have substantial fleets. According to Basson, banks are increasingly insistent that owners have their aircraft looked after by approved operators.
ExecuJet is trying to persuade owners to look beyond tax and import issues when it comes to deciding on which national registry to place their aircraft, and by extension, which management companies to use. The company believes that the attraction of some offshore registries will diminish if the European Aviation Safety Agency achieves its stated aim of ensuring full standardization of rules.