Luxemburg-based Luxaviation Helicopters today launched a network of charter operators offering global access to more than 70 VIP-outfitted rotorcraft. Members of the Luxaviation Helicopters Charter Alliance include U.S.-based HeliFlite; Azur Hélicoptère of France; UK-based Starspeed; and ExecuJet, with rotor fleets based in Mexico and South Africa. Starspeed, a Luxaviation Helicopters subsidiary, operates a fleet of some 25 helicopters primarily dedicated to serving superyachts around the globe.
According to Luxaviation CEO Charlotte Pedersen, more than 5,000 helicopter companies are in business worldwide, “but when you want to charter one in a local area, on Google you can find 50 companies, but you don’t know if they’re an operator or a broker or their safety record. So I sensed there was a need to establish a global network of [vetted] operators.”
Pedersen likens the network to airline alliances, in which members adhere to common standards, but said the model hasn’t previously been applied in the rotor world because “helicopters tend to fly locally.” Luxaviation is currently working with Wyvern to create an auditing and approval process for prospective members.
The alliance has been in development for the past 18 months and tested last summer in a trial with HeliFlite in the New York market, in which Luxaviation promoted the U.S. company’s service on its website. That resulted in a 20 percent boost in HeliFlite’s web traffic and more inquiries about its services.
Though not exhibiting this year, the Luxaviation Helicopters alliance team is at Heli-Expo 2019, meeting with operators and partners. Going forward, the alliance is “not looking for specific numbers” of members or helicopters, but wants to have “companies in different regions, in interesting cities, in places where people need helicopters,” Pedersen said.
The alliance prefers that members have at least one twin-engine helicopter, but operators who otherwise meet the alliance standards could be members in regions where no twins are available, said Pedersen. There are also plans for the alliance to partner with airlines to offer premium customers first- and last-mile service, she said.