Royal Jet expects to take delivery of two new BBJs in 2016, bringing the fleet size to 13 aircraft. The operator is still considering Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier for fleet expansion. Captain Patrick Gordon, interim president and CEO, told AIN in an interview at Dubai Airshow he expects Royal Jet to have a fleet sized around 20 aircraft by 2020. He did not mention any imminent aircraft retirements, but said he had sold one of two Gulfstream 300s in the fleet.
One green BBJ with long-range tanks and enhanced vision is at Lufthansa Technik for interior completion and will be delivered in October 2016, Gordon said, followed by the second a month later. That will bring the total of BBJs in the fleet to eight.
Several managers in the region were turning to the Royal Jet model for its ease of use and lack of ownership headaches. “A lot of them realize that it’s better to charter,” he said. Gordon added that medevac missions represented 20 percent of business to date this year. Other clients include high-net-worth individuals, government delegations and ministers. He estimates that Royal Jet flies 2,000 movements a year. Royal Jet had flown to 159 airports in 73 countries in the first half of 2015, and was well on track to beat last year’s performance of 250 airports in 105 countries, he said.
Gordon said plans to move the operation from Abu Dhabi International to Al Bateen had been shelved, after feelers were put out by his predecessor, Shane O’Hare. “There is no sense operationally or fiscally in the move,” Gordon said.
Royal Jet is in the final stages of negotiating the establishment of another foreign FBO in an undisclosed location, after the success of a venture in the Seychelles, which opened two years ago. “We want to create an umbrella of mutually supportive FBOs. I want to go to places where the function of an FBO is not even understood.”
Gordon is trying to democratize the industry, and his paper ‘T=M’ (time equals money) is something he cites by way of explanation. From the paper: “The next time a charter company representative calls on you, don’t jump to conclusions and make the mistake of saying, ‘You’re too expensive.’ Take the time to discuss the issue to determine if that is the case.”
Gordon said the Bombardier CSeries is “still an airplane we are considering,” adding that recent news of Quebec government funding for the program is a good sign. But he added the proviso: “We are like the pretty girl at the dance. We want to be careful who we dance with.”