Demand for aircraft charter is rising worldwide, with more businesses and private individuals willing and able to start taking this increasingly attractive alternative to scheduled airline services.
Swissport Executive Aviation (SEA) is opening a new FBO at Spain’s Malaga Airport this month. The move is the next step in the company’s ambitious plan to double its current number of European FBOs to 20 between now and the end of 2007.
The ExecuJet Aviation FBO at Zurich Kloten Airport has installed a WLAN high-speed communications connection for passenger and crew use. Also new is a vending machine selling snacks and drinks, giving visitors choices beyond the complimentary coffee and mineral water.
With more than 1,700 employees worldwide, including 300 in Europe, Signature Flight Support handles nearly one million aircraft movements and provides more than 110 million gallons of fuel to business, general and commercial aircraft each year. Over the last five years the group has invested more than $100 million to design, restore and equip 15 FBOs.
Jeff Bosque was named president of Associated Air Center. He replaced Rick Penshorn, who resigned in April for personal reasons. Bosque was previously v-p of sales and marketing for the aircraft completions company. Garrett/Piedmont Hawthorne/Associated named Roger Wolfe executive v-p of operations for the combined company. Wolfe was most recently general manager and vice president for Honeywell Airframe Systems.
The Lufthansa Private Jet service, which allows passengers to book NetJets Europe aircraft for connections with the German airline’s scheduled services, now includes Frankfurt Airport. When the program began at the end of March it served only Munich.
Executive aircraft charter activity in Europe has definitely increased this year. On average, operators surveyed by AIN reported that during the first six months of this year, the number of charter flight hours logged was around 17 percent higher than during the same period last year.
Options, awareness, acceptance, security, time, the economy and the hassles of airline travel are contributing to a buoyant U.S. charter market, with activity up an average of 30 to 40 percent over last year. The increased demand is putting pressure on operators to add aircraft to their fleets as they edge up their base rates.
On December 10, after a three- week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, a jury awarded pilot Doyle Baker nearly $64 million, in a lawsuit against aircraft management firm PrivatAir and three of its employees. Baker filed suit in July 2004, alleging that Privat-Air had fired him at age 62 due, in part, to age discrimination.
With its Private Jet service, Lufthansa is Europe’s only airline to offer connection flights with business jets to and from its overseas links departing or arriving in Frankfurt or Munich. Point-to-point flights anywhere within the European Union, as well as Switzerland and Norway, are also available.