EBACE Convention News

Spain’s second-largest charter firm expanding

 - November 30, 2006, 8:11 AM

Executive Airlines, Spain’s second-ranking executive charter operator, has increased its fleet from four aircraft to seven and expects to add five more in the next two years, for a total of 12, to serve what it calls a growing but very competitive market.

According to sales manager Philippe Bina, three aircraft joined its Barcelona-based fleet last year: two managed Cessna Citation CJ1s and a British Aerospace Hawker 700, which has since been withdrawn from service. Last month the operator added a brand-new Gulfstream G200 under a management contract. Bina also said a new Citation XLS is to enter service later this year.

Executive (Booth No. 732) also owns four business jets–a Dassault Falcon 900EX, a Bombardier Learjet 45 that it previously managed, a Citation Bravo and a CJ1. In addition, it has an exclusive partnership agreement with Mayoral, another Spanish operator that owns a Falcon 200 and 100, both based at Malaga on the south coast.

Currently, fewer than 80 jets are operated for corporate or private use in Spain, but Bina said the market is growing and is very competitive. He explained that a significant number of wealthy Spaniards are reported to be planning to purchase their own aircraft. “We will definitely increase our fleet in the next two to three years but new aircraft will probably operate on a management basis,” he told EBACE Convention News. “To expand our services, we are examining the possibility of obtaining large-cabin aircraft–such as the Falcon 2000 and [Bombardier] Global Express–and are considering adding midsize jets–for example, the Citation Excel,” he said.

Executive was founded in late 1999 by Manuel Leo Hernandez who owns CIRSA, a Spanish group specializing in casinos and slot machine manufacturing. The firm’s year-on-year business grew 57 percent in 2005 for which it reported 2,556 hours flown, compared with 2,099 the previous year and just 1,300 hours in 2003. Bina said charter prices did not change last year and, although currency for the base price of the Falcon changed from U.S. dollars to euros, the actual rate remained the same. After huge growth in 2005, Bina said he expects the level of activity to remain strong this year, especially in the local Spanish business aviation market.

“Spain’s generally good economic condition and greater buying power makes high-quality service, privacy and getting closer to a destination more accessible and brings more clients into the charter market every year,” Bina said. He believes security concerns will remain a major issue and attract even more clients to executive aviation. In his view, new charter operator Jets Personales could be a competitor in Madrid, but not for Executive’s operations in Malaga and Parma de Mallorca, or its main base in Barcelona, where it claims to be the market leader.

In other news, Executive Airlines has opened a brand-new facility at Torrejon Airport in Madrid. It has also obtained licenses to provide handling to other business aircraft operators at the Barcelona and Madrid airports, which it will begin to do during the second half of this year.