Look out, independent charter operators! Hello, charter passengers! The launch of the world’s first corporate jet charter alliance was announced here at MEBA 2012 yesterday.
Known as AirClub, the alliance brings together eight of Europe’s leading corporate jet charter operators: ACM Air Charter, Air Alsie, Air Hamburg, Corporatejets, Flyinggroup, GlobeAir, Masterjet and PrivatAir. Between them they operate 106 aircraft, covering a wide spectrum of range and payload capabilities, from the Beechcraft King Air to the VVIP Boeing 757. Various Cessna Citation and Dassault Falcon models are the predominant types.
“We will combine the strength, purchasing power and expertise of some of Europe’s leading players within the industry to provide clients with premium service, top aircraft availability and flexibility, as well as the highest possible standard of safety and comfort,” said PrivatAir’s Christian Hatje, who is chairman of AirClub.
For the eight charter operators, who will retain their independence, the alliance will allow them to upgrade their customer service and widen the type of service they can offer. From a purchasing point of view, the alliance membership gives them greater strength, particularly in the areas of fuel provision, insurance and spares. “If you’re not part of an alliance you’re going to face challenges in the future,” Hatje warned.
Having now established the alliance, which was founded in Geneva on October 30, the priority is to get an online booking service up and running. AirClub members expect that to happen early next year. Through the booking website, air charter customers will be able to easily specify their requirements and receive instant availability information from across the alliance’s joint fleets. The website will match customer requirements to various aircraft types, and provide rapid pricing. With the website live, AirClub will look at the next step of an alliance-wide jet card, although jet cards from any of the eight members can now be used across the alliance.
Launching a corporate jet alliance could be the start of an industry-changing trend. AirClub intends to increase in size, both at home in Europe and farther afield. “Our target is NetJets,” said Philip Queffelec from Masterjet. “We feel it is too expensive for the customer, so we will compete with them with a new model.”
Expansion beyond Europe could see the alliance extend into Turkey, the Middle East and beyond, although Hatje noted that the AirClub would proceed in a step-by-step fashion. However, he added, “We’re aiming for at least 500 aircraft worldwide.”